Nico Hülkenberg says that he is optimistic over the Renault F1 Team‘s race pace after the French marque made it into Qualifying 3 for the first time in the 2019 Formula 1 season.
Hülkenberg will start the Chinese Grand Prix, F1’s 1000th world championship event, from eighth place directly behind team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.
The German’s best time of a 1:32.962 left him 0.004 seconds behind Ricciardo in one of the many closely-matched team battles on the grid.
He said that the car’s general feeling has been positive, having completed its planned Free Practice programme yesterday and made the top five in Free Practices 2 and 3 – through Hülkenberg.
“It’s a really good team result,” said Hülkenberg.
“The car has been feeling good and performing well all weekend and we had a smooth qualifying today.
“We managed to get into Qualifying 2 on just one run, which is pleasing. I was happy with all my laps, we knew it would be close and it shaped out to be that way.”
Hülkenberg went on to say that the R.S.19‘s race pace at the Shanghai International Circuit looks to be promising, with Ricciardo aiming to beat one of the Red Bull Racing cars that start from fifth and sixth.
Renault lost out on a double points finish in Bahrain two weeks’ ago, leaving Hülkenberg and Ricciardo with widespread power unit component changes – however, both drivers have not been subject to any grid penalties.
“The important thing is the team result and we can race strong from there,” Hülkenberg added.
“Our long run pace yesterday was competitive, the package feels good and we’ll be pushing for a double points finish.”