Nico Hülkenberg admitted qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix was a struggle for the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team, with the German qualifying twelfth on Saturday.
Hülkenberg will move up one place thanks to Fernando Alonso’s grid penalty, but he struggled for pace, particularly in the first sector, which includes the esses and Degner Curves sections, and the German feels this cost them the opportunity of a top ten qualifying spot.
Starting eleventh, Hülkenberg hopes to break into the points on Sunday, feeling the RS17 will be better in racing conditions as he bids to maintain his tenth place in the Drivers’ Championship ahead of Williams Martini Racing duo Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll.
“We struggled in qualifying and the car balance just wasn’t there, in particular with oversteer in the first sector,” said Hülkenberg. “Generally, in qualifying you improve, but this time it wasn’t coming to us, so a top ten position slipped through our fingers.
“It’s not going to be easy tomorrow as the midfield is a competitive place to be. It wasn’t the qualifying we hoped for, it’s going to be hard work but we just need to do a good job to recover tomorrow.
“The package is good, and if we can have a good start everything is at play for the race; we can still score points.”