Nico Hülkenberg: “The red flag proved costly because it neutralised things”

Nico Hülkenberg - Credit: Sahara Force India

Nico Hülkenberg equalled his best career finish as he secured fourth place at the Belgian Grand Prix, but felt that without the red flag he could have taken his maiden Formula 1 podium finish.

The Sahara Force India driver was running in second position and pulling away from the rest of the field but Kevin Magnussen’s heavy crash at Raidillon and the subsequent red flag for barrier repairs left him under threat again, and he was unable to keep Daniel Ricciardo or Lewis Hamilton behind him.

Even though the podium slipped through his fingers, Hülkenberg felt it was a great day for the team, and with both drivers inside the top five it took Force India above Williams Martini Racing in the Constructors’ Championship.

“Today is a massive result for the team and I’m feeling very happy with fourth place,” said Hülkenberg. “There were some unusual circumstances, but we were there to take the opportunities and pick up some very important points.

“At the start of the race things worked out really well for me. The first lap was great; I was up in second place following Nico [Rosberg] and pulling away from the group of cars behind me. Unfortunately, the red flag proved costly because it neutralised things and bunched everybody back up again.

“The restart was clean and the rest of the race was quite controlled – just managing my pace and looking after the tyres. There was a battle with Fernando [Alonso] coming out of the pit lane, but we managed to stay ahead and keep the fourth position.

“Maybe if things had worked out slightly differently, we could have been on the podium, but I’m satisfied with the fourth position.”