Nico Hülkenberg felt he could have finished seventh ahead of Sahara Force India team-mate Sergio Perez in the Japanese Grand Prix had he enjoyed a better qualifying performance on Saturday.
The German made a good start to run seventh early at Suzuka, but his two-stop strategy meant he was forced to pass both Williams drivers on track, with the move around the outside of Valtteri Bottas at the chicane particularly pleasing for him.
“I am quite happy with my race: seventh would have been possible, but I paid the price of not having an ideal qualifying session yesterday,” said Hülkenberg. “I had a good first lap, but when you start from the back of the top ten, you have a lot more traffic to deal with and that cost me some time.
“The pass on Valtteri [Bottas] was the highlight of my race. I had lined up a pass the lap before, but didn’t get a good exit from the final corner and I missed out in turn one; so I told myself “if I can’t get you here, I’ll get you at the chicane instead!” I pulled the move off nicely; it was a close wheel-to-wheel battle.”
With Force India embroiled in a close battle with Williams in the Constructor’s Championship, Hülkenberg knows how important getting both drivers inside the points in the remaining races, with ten points separating the two teams with four races remaining.
“It was important to finish with two cars well inside the points, but we know every race and every point will count from here onwards because the battle in the championship will go down to the final race,” said Hülkenberg. “It’s going to be good fun and it’s a nice challenge.”