Nico Hülkenberg: “We could have beaten at least two or three more cars”

by Paul Hensby

Nico Hülkenberg was satisfied to make it into the top ten shootout for the German Grand Prix on Saturday, but the Renault F1 Team racer felt he could have been higher up on the grid than ninth had he strung together a decent lap in Q3.

The German, racing in front of his home crowd this weekend at the Hockenheimring, was able to advance into Q3 in seventh but by the narrowest of margins, but he could only muster ninth when it mattered, qualifying behind midfield rivals Kimi Räikkönen, Romain Grosjean and Carlos Sainz Jr.

“On a whole, we can be satisfied with that effort today,” said Hülkenberg.  “We knew it was going to be close to get into Q3 but we achieved that and that’s pleasing.

“It was incredible how tight Q2 was with even Daniel and I only split by three hundredths and that was the difference in making the top ten or not. In Q3, I didn’t quite get it together and it’s only ninth in the end. We could have beaten at least two or three more cars.”

With the weather in Germany set to be unsettled on Sunday, Hülkenberg says everyone at Renault will give it their absolute best regardless of the conditions.

“I’m open for anything tomorrow,” said the German.  “Nothing is guaranteed in the wet and as we experienced last year, it is tricky in the rain here.

“We’ll give it our best whatever happens.”

Team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was left frustrated down in thirteenth, but his lap time compared to Hülkenberg in Q2 was only 0.033 seconds slower, but such is the tight nature of the midfield pack in 2019, this gap separated six cars.

“It’s frustrating to be the wrong side in Q2, but it was incredibly tight out there,” admitted Ricciardo.  “We were the last ones in the 12.7secs and less than half a tenth would have put me eighth and through.

“In that regard, the midfield is enjoyable as it’s so close. On my side, I have to take accountability for that as I know I could have done a little bit more. We made a good improvement from the morning so it was pleasing to be so close to the top ten.”

The Australian says he would not mind if it rained on Sunday but he feels confident he can fight for points regardless of the weather conditions at the Hockenheimring.

“Tomorrow could be nice if it rains,” said Ricciardo.  “Even if it’s dry, we’ll be alright. It’s a mixed field ahead of us, but for now, we’ll take it on the chin and figure it out.”

Sporting Director Alan Permane credited Hülkenberg for being able to maximise his Q2 pace to advance into Q3, but he acknowledged a ‘little wobble’ at turn twelve prevented Ricciardo from making it a double top ten appearance.

“Firstly, credit to Nico for getting into Q3, as it was extremely close out there,” said Permane.  “There were six or seven cars in the same tenth with Nico at the top end of it and Daniel at the bottom end.

“Daniel had a tiny wobble at Turn 12 on his second Q2 run and that cost him his Q3 place. Nico did a great job, although, admittedly, a clean Q3 lap would have seen him qualify even higher.”

Permane says Renault will be prepared for any conditions on Sunday, and whether its wet or dry they will be aiming for points with both cars.

“We know we can score tomorrow, the forecast looks unsettled and there are chances for rain during the race,” added Permane.  “We’re prepared for all situations.”

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