Nico Hulkenberg was the surprise elimination during the first part of qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix today, with the German driver believing that mistakes on both of his last two flying laps of the session cost him a place in Q2.
The Force India driver qualified down in 18th position during the wet session today at Spa. This is his second-worst ever starting position for a grand prix, having started last for the 2012 Italian Grand Prix thanks to a gearbox change.
However, he did not look to palm off the blame for the result, admitting that he made some mistakes towards the end of the session in the rain.
“It was a difficult session in tricky conditions,” Hulkenberg said. “Initially it was looking good. I was on the pace and we chose to stay out on one set of intermediates for the whole session. Maybe that was a factor in missing out on Q2 because my tires were quite old and worn by the end of the session.
“Q2 should still have been possible, but I made mistakes on my last two laps and outbraked myself going into the final corner, went wide and lost time.”
However, the German driver is confident that he can bounce back in the race tomorrow after showing good signs of pace in practice yesterday.
“For the race tomorrow, I believe we can recover because we’ve got a solid car and the long run pace in the dry yesterday looked promising,” he said.
Hulkenberg’s teammate, Sergio Perez, failed to make it through to Q3 on Saturday, and will start the race from 13th position.
“It was not the easiest day for us,” he said. “I was struggling in the wet conditions and that was the main issue today. I wanted to be further up but we did not maximize everything.
“I’m feeling more optimistic for tomorrow and we should have strong race pace. P13 is not a bad place to start the race and I’m sure we can move forward and make up some positions.”
It will be interesting to see how Hulkenberg fares in the race tomorrow from so far back, but given the pace of the Force India and the power of the Mercedes engine, he should be aiming to pick up some points for a finish in the lower reaches of the top ten.