Nico Hülkenberg admitted it was a surprise to make it through to the top-ten shootout at the Sepang International Circuit after finding it difficult earlier in the weekend to get the right balance and speed in his RS17.
The Renault Sport Formula 1 Team racer will start the final Malaysian Grand Prix from eighth on the grid, and now has confidence heading into the race that the team can fight those around them to score a big haul of points.
“I’m quite happy with today’s session,” said Hülkenberg. “It’s been a struggle for us all weekend, we didn’t have the right balance and didn’t have the speed.
“We weren’t sure we were going to get into Q3 so I’m quite pleased with the results. We’ll push for a little bit more tomorrow and look to get ahead of McLaren and Force India.”
Team-mate Jolyon Palmer was again unable to match Hülkenberg, meaning the German has now out-qualified the Briton in each of the first fifteen races of the season.
The twenty-six-year-old will start twelfth on Sunday, and is looking to make up ground to score points for a second consecutive race weekend, having scored his first points of the season last time out in Singapore.
“I’m a bit disappointed not to finish in the top 10 because we had good pace but in the end, we just missed out,” said Palmer. “We will start twelfth tomorrow and I hope to move forward, we only have to gain two places to get in the points.
“Anything can happen in the first few corners here so we should make it.”