Nico Hulkenberg: “I expect a tough race”

After completing the top ten during qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix, Sahara Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg revealed the change of format did not really change his approach to the session.

The German driver said the first run of each session was now the most important laps of the day, but felt happy to qualify tenth at Albert Park, as it opens up the options for race day when it comes to tyre choice, something that would not have happened under the previous qualifying format.

Hulkenberg is hopeful of having a strong race on Sunday, and is hoping to secure points in Australia for the third consecutive season.

“The new qualifying format didn’t really change my approach, although you are certainly under more pressure to deliver a good first run to avoid being at risk of dropping out early,” said Hulkenberg. “So your first runs in Q1 and Q2 are probably the most important of the day.

“In terms of the result, I’m pretty happy with tenth and it’s more or less in the ballpark of what we felt we could achieve today. Under last year’s rules it would have taken us through to Q3, but with the new format it’s actually a really good place to start because it opens up some nice strategy options with the free tyre choice for the start of the race.

“There are still a few unknowns for tomorrow, especially in terms of race pace because nobody was able to do their usual long run programmes yesterday. Also, the first race always has the potential to be unpredictable and eventful. I expect a tough race because the grid is very tight, but I want to come away with some big points.”