Nico Hülkenberg said that he could not find the required rhythm on his final efforts in qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix, labelling the evening “a little frustrating”.
The Renault Sport Formula 1 Team driver will line up in tenth position for his 150th Grand Prix and as the sole Renault driver in the top ten, due to team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr. only managing twelfth.
Hülkenberg stood 2.5 seconds off of polesitter Lewis Hamilton‘s time and believed that Renault “had the potential” to exceed their end result. In Friday’s Free Practice 1 session, the German set the fifth fastest time and reached the top ten in Free Practice 2’s qualifying simulations.
However, the 31-year-old admitted that the lack of performance was not down to a car issue, pinning the blame on his shoulders, suggesting that he and the car could have gone much quicker than the fifth row.
“It’s a little frustrating because we had the potential to be higher up on the grid,” bemoaned Hülkenberg.
“The qualifying pace in the car wasn’t as bad as it looks from the timing sheets as my final attempt wasn’t good. Seventh or eighth was probably possible today, but it didn’t go our way.”
The German took positives from Renault’s race pace shown yesterday evening, emphasising the need for tyre management at the rear-limited Marina Bay Street Circuit.
Pirelli Motorsport‘s three slick compounds – the hyper-soft, ultra-soft and soft – brought to Singapore have shown big gaps in performance, providing an interesting twist to strategy tomorrow. The former Racing Point Force India F1 Team driver says that starting on the hyper-soft tyres, just like the rest of the field, could prove to be difficult.
“We have to remain positive as our race pace seemed good yesterday,” Hülkenberg continued. “Tyre and race management will be crucial.
“Starting on the hyper-soft tyre won’t be easy, but we have to manage tomorrow as best we can.
“I want to have a good race, optimise everything and get back into the points.”
Renault face increasing competition for fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship from the Haas F1 Team, only keeping their advantage due to Romain Grosjean‘s exclusion from the Italian Grand Prix a fortnight ago due to a floor irregularity.