Nico Hulkenberg has made no secret of his happiness following a highly impressive display during qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza today, finishing a remarkable third behind both Red Bull drivers.
The German driver ran well throughout qualifying to get into Q3, but little more was expected from Sauber given that the team’s best grid position of the season until today was tenth. However, Hulkenberg rallied to post a blistering final lap time of 1:24.065 once the checkered flag had fallen to finish just three-tenths behind pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel and ahead of both Ferrari drivers.
“This was a nice surprise for all of us,” Hulkenberg explained. “I didn’t expect that after a very difficult Friday. Yesterday we struggled a lot with the car and the guys have done a fantastic job turning it around to give me such a competitive car today.”
2013 has been a difficult year for Sauber, dogged by financial uncertainty and lacklustre results on track. However, Hulkenberg is confident that this result will give the team something to cheer about.
“It is a highlight for the whole team. Such a result will lift our spirits.
“During qualifying the car just got better and better and the track improved as well. We made the right decision to go for one timed lap in Q3 and then this happened. I hope the long run pace is good tomorrow. A big thank you to the whole team and everyone in Hinwil, who have been working hard and have never given up in this difficult year.”
From P3, Hulkenberg will be hoping to add to his tally of seven points in the drivers’ championship for 2013, with rumors suggesting that he could be in the running for Felipe Massa’s seat at Ferrari should the Italian marque opt to drop the Brazilian driver.