Expectations high for Hulkenberg, Force India in China

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Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg is heading into this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix will high expectations despite enduring a mixed start to the 2016 Formula 1 season.

Hulkenberg ran to seventh in Australia last month, but spent the majority of the race toiling behind Romain Grosjean of the new Haas team in P6.

Force India suffered from a distinct lack of pace throughout the Bahrain Grand Prix two weeks ago, leaving Hulkenberg to drop from eighth on the grid to struggle home in 15th place.

Nevertheless, Hulkenberg has high hopes for this weekend’s race in Shanghai, believing that his run to Q3 on Saturday in Bahrain shows the inherent pace of the VJM09 car is good.

“My expectations for this weekend are high and, after the disappointment of Bahrain, I hope we can have a clean race in China,” Hulkenberg said.

“There’s good pace in the car and reaching Q3 in Bahrain was proof of that. We had to work very hard with the car set-up to find the sweet spot, but we learned a lot of things that will carry over into this weekend.”

Force India team owner Vijay Mallya echoed Hulkenberg’s comments, believing that the team is yet to truly show what it can do this season.

“It feels as though we’ve yet to unleash our true potential this season,” Mallya said.

“Both the races so far have been heavily compromised, either by our own mistakes or outside circumstances, so I’d like to see what we can achieve with a clean, trouble-free race to the flag.

“When things go to plan, we know we can compete well inside the top ten and I expect everyone in the team to be pushing hard to reverse our recent fortunes.”

The Chinese Grand Prix is live across NBCSN and Live Extra this weekend.