Nico Hulkenberg and Valtteri Bottas were two drivers who may not have spent much time on TV in China today, but both drove solid races to finish sixth and seventh respectively to pick up some good points.
Hulkenberg made a good start from eighth to move up two places, but he was soon passed by Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes. After Felipe Massa hit trouble in the pits, the Force India driver recovered sixth place, and he managed to stay there after a battle with Bottas in the last few laps of the race.
“Finishing in sixth and bringing both cars home in the points again was a very positive result for the team,” the German driver said. “It was actually a pretty straightforward race for me after we got in front of Massa: I had to manage my tires, my pace and avoid mistakes, and it only got tricky at the end when Bottas was getting a bit closer.”
Hulkenberg finished the day as the top Mercedes customer car, but he was closely tailed by Bottas. The Finn was unable to make it past and came home just half a second behind his rival, although it would not have counted had he passed on the final two laps due to a mix-up with the checkered flag.
“It was a good race for me despite some hard contact at the start which cost me a few positions,” Bottas said. “I also had to drive the whole race without telemetry which isn’t the easiest thing to do. We made progress over the whole weekend which is good.”
Both drivers have made great starts to the season, and currently lie within the top seven of the drivers’ championship. Although neither has recorded a podium finish yet in Formula 1, they are both stars for the future who appear to have the makings of champions.