Renault F1 Team driver Nico Hülkenberg expressed his frustration over a poor qualifying for the French Grand Prix, but said his points finish in the race was “pleasing”.
Hülkenberg struggled in Q2 at Circuit Paul Ricard on his final run to get into the top 10, losing the rear of his car at the Turn 8 and 9 chicane, leaving him a disappointing thirteenth on the grid for the team’s home grand prix.
But the German managed to redress the situation in Sunday’s race by finishing ninth on-track, promoted to eighth by post-race penalties for team-mate Daniel Ricciardo – who provisionally finished seventh.
Renault used a different strategy on Hülkenberg’s car compared to Ricciardo, due to the low grid position, and started the former on fresh hard tyres before switching to mediums on lap 34 of 53.
“We made a good recovery today and it’s pleasing to be in the top ten again,” said Hülkenberg.
“Maybe it could have been a different race had we qualified slightly higher, but thirteenth to ninth is a strong effort.
“I was pushing all race, but I was stuck in traffic and this place is difficult for overtaking.”
Hülkenberg was embroiled in an intense late battle for seventh along with the McLaren F1 Team‘s Lando Norris, Ricciardo and Alfa Romeo Racing‘s Kimi Räikkönen.
A hydraulics problem for Norris with 20 laps to go allowed the trio to close on the McLaren and all pass the rookie on the final lap.
Ricciardo’s moves on Norris and Räikkönen were deemed worthy of two five second-time penalties, but Hülkenberg said that the duel was “really fun” – before noting that Renault’s qualifying pace has to improve in order to make better use of its Sunday potential.
“I had pace in hand today, which shows on race day we’re strong,” Hülkenberg added.
“The last few laps were really fun; it was tight and exciting and I was happy to make up some places there.
“We’ve demonstrated that our race pace is there, but we have something to find on one-lap pace.”