Renault F1 Team driver Nico Hülkenberg surprised the Formula 1 Paddock as he finished an impressive fifth in Free Practice 2 in Bahrain.
Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 2 were both strong sessions for the German driver but he managed to finish amongst the front-runners in the second session.
During Free Practice 1, Hülkenberg set a time of 1:32:040 and finished eighth but he shaved three seconds off his time in Free Practice 2.
Getting his RS19 in amongst the top six, Hülkenberg sandwiched himself between fourth placed Mercedes-AMG Motorsport‘s Lewis Hamilton and sixth placed Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen.
After two solid performances, Hülkenberg said, “There was a distinct lack of grip in Free Practice 1 making it quite hard to drive and become comfortable in the car; we had to deal with a lot of oversteer.
“Free Practice 2 was under more representative conditions and I feel we’ve made a good start for both short and long run preparation.”
Along with finishing in the top six, Hülkenberg was also a second faster than his teammate Daniel Ricciardo, who ended the day in fifteenth place.
Conditions for the second session were thought to replicate the cooler on-track temperatures which are expected during the evening race on Sunday, and with Hülkenberg looking impressive on track, it’s good news for one half of the French outfit.
“Overall, it’s been a productive day’s work in Bahrain. It’s always a tricky place to arrive to for the second Grand Prix of the year with the heat and challenging climatic conditions with wind and dust.
“Fifth place on the leaderboard always looks nice, but we’re realistic and have our focus totally on qualifying tomorrow.”