Hulkenberg surprised by race pace

2013 Italian Grand Prix

Nico Hulkenberg, Sauber, Monza, 2013Nico Hulkenberg said he was surprised by how strong his Sauber was in the closing stages of the Italian Grand Prix.

Hulkenberg claimed the team’s best result of the year so far with fifth place behind the Red Bulls and Ferraris.

“After yesterday and after Saturday morning as well I was quite confident that we had good race pace,” said Hulkenberg.

“But to be that strong, especially in the final stint, in the last 15 laps, where we are really catching up with the Ferraris and Red Bulls in front, there I was quite surprised.

“It wasn’t an easy race,” Hulkenberg added, “it was quite hard and challenging from Nico [Rosberg] behind, he didn’t leave me alone so I wasn’t allowed to make any mistake and he really kept me busy.”

Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said she was “very happy and very relieved” with the result.

“It’s important that whatever improvements we have been doing and the little steps we’ve been taking we can finally reflect in the result,” she said.

“It’s important for the team because we can see and show to the outside that we’re still onto the championship, we’re not giving up, by no means. And we know we cannot broadly achieve a better position like we had last year, or around that area, but we definitely will not give up.”

Kaltenborn believes the result owes little to the unique nature of the Monza track: “I don’t think it really has that much to do with the circuit because, frankly speaking, we were rather concerned when we came here, actually, we would be competitive.”

“I think it’s been on the one side great work by the team, by working on the set-up. And of course the bits and pieces which we got, specially for this track, which depend on the understand we now have of the car, which is much better. And then of course the driver: he’s done a great job in qualifying and perfect race for us.”

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40 comments on Hulkenberg surprised by race pace

  1. Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1) said on 8th September 2013, 16:06

    He is a great driver, please someone give him a top seat!!!!

  2. Incredible job Hulk!

  3. OmarR-Pepper (@omarr-pepper) said on 8th September 2013, 16:13

    If they keep climbing up, it can be an interesting challenge for Toro Rosso and McLaren on the final stages. Their major problem with the next results, though, is called Esteban Gutierrez. They really their 2 drivers delivering points, and even when 13th is good , is out of the points, as always for Gutierrez. They should rehire Kobayashi for the final rounds

  4. dennis (@dennis) said on 8th September 2013, 16:16

    For once the narrow sidepods were good for something.

  5. saipthegod (@saipthegod) said on 8th September 2013, 16:16

    I have been reading Monisha’s comments since yesterday after the quali and now the race, she didnt take Hulk’s name even once! Post quali, she commented on Gutierrez but not on Hulk.. Great job by team etc etc. Nothing about him. And today, she refers to him as “the driver”. has their working relationship completely broken down after he did not accept the extension?

  6. PhilEReid (@philereid) said on 8th September 2013, 16:35

    Hulkenburg has impressed me ever since he’s been in F1. He was unfairly let go at the end of 2010, I think FI should have picked him up over Di Resta or Sutil for 2011. If he gets let go at the end of this year and doesn’t either get to retain his drive, or get a better drive, it’ll be one of the biggest short-comings in driver related modern F1 history. The guy is so very talented, and would be a shame to see him go, both as a fan of F1 and as a huge fan of his (he’s my 2nd favourite driver after Hamilton).

    • Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1) said on 8th September 2013, 16:37

      I’d rather see Hulk in Ferrari than Kimi.

    • kpcart said on 8th September 2013, 17:33

      I wasn’t that impressed with Hulkenburg in f1 until his drives the last few races this year. He was dominant in A1GP, and I thought he would have entered f1 like Robert Kubica did a few years ago when joining a midfield team, but he didn’t – but credit to him he has got better and better and is now showing good form. I don’t know if he deserves a drive for Ferrari… but Ferrari does need a good midfield driver as a number 2, so maybe he can. this weekend reminded me of Kubica coming 3rd for Sauber in his 2nd or 3rd race in f1 at monza, when hulkenburg qualified 3rd, I thought it would be deja vu for sauber! 5th was a great drive too.

    • smokinjoe (@smokinjoe) said on 8th September 2013, 18:29

      Hulk been in F1 from 2010 ,since then perez got the mclaren drive,riccardo got the red bull.Only top team left that can recruit him is ferrari which is a very long shot .Time is definitely running out for him

  7. I dont know why people find performances like this so surprising at circuits where slippy aerodynamically efficient cars do well.

    Watch Sauber disapere back down the field once we get back to the high downforce circuits.

    Solid job by Hulkenberg in the given conditions, but frankly there was a couple of cars out of position in this race, which, all things considered, would have seen him fighting for the positions that they themselves expected before Q (~7th+)

  8. Kaltenborn believes the result owes little to the unique nature of the Monza track

    But it owes a lot to the understanding they have of this track and of the aero packages they needed to bring here, which worked. Also it has a lot to do with the fact that Monza is a track that’s easy on the tyres, an ideal situation they need in order to perform well and with the fact that aerodynamics are easier to get right here, and that has been Sauber’s weak spot this season.

    I’m glad for Hulk, but I think this result needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. It was a good race out of many bad ones, not a new habit.

    • bull mello (@bullmello) said on 8th September 2013, 20:10

      @tony031r

      the fact that aerodynamics are easier to get right here, and that has been Sauber’s weak spot this season.

      I’ve been scratching my head trying to figure out how Sauber achieved such a good result in qualifying and the race, this could help explain it. The tires in the race being less of a factor made sense and getting the aero right must have helped qualifying and the race. “The driver” is certainly a factor, but this was a pretty big leap.

  9. Patrick (@paeschli) said on 8th September 2013, 18:14

    Driver of the weekend for me, just messed it a bit up at the start, it would have been fun to see him fighting with the Ferraris at the opening laps.

    For once the narrow sidepods were good for something.

    I don’t understand … why are they bad on other tracks?

    • Younger Hamii (@younger-hamii) said on 8th September 2013, 18:36

      just messed it a bit up at the start, it would have been fun to see him fighting with the Ferraris at the opening laps.

      Even so, he was only behind the pole sitter, two Ferrari drivers who are renowned for making consistently lightning starts and the pole sitter’s sister car, at the start.

      Hulk is now long due a front-running seat, particularly given that he’s approaching his prime years, I see him driving under Domenicalli or Boullier next year, other wise I’ll be very disappointed if he’s in a midfield team again.

  10. If this is the true pace of the car, Gutierrez must be sacked at once. Bring back Koba or Schumacher or Montoya.

  11. macrob said on 8th September 2013, 18:42

    Hulkenberg delivered a superb race, having said that at this point last year Perez already had 3 podiums with Sauber. I am not impressed by a 5th place considering the car was really fast this weekend, I still believe Nico can deliver more and put that car in the podium this season.

    Gutierrez? My my my…tell me about lacking confidence, F1 arrived too soon for him…

    • Well maybe because the 2012 Sauber was a half decent car and this years has been an absolute dog that chews it tyres to pieces. 5th was an awesome result behind only the Ferraris and red bulls finishing only 10 seconds behind Vettel aswell.

    • Well, this year’s Sauber is a huge step backwards over last year, of course Perez scored more podiums than Hulkenberg. It was actually surprising to see Sauber competitive this weekend, I didn’t think it would happen, honestly.

      As for Gutierrez.. he did two seasons in GP2, his 2012 season was good. This year has been a disaster for him, he hasn’t scored a single point, even when the car was capable of doing so. I didn’t expect him to do so bad. Maybe it was too soon, or maybe F1 isn’t for him.

  12. guido (@guidof1) said on 8th September 2013, 18:50

    Hulkenberg really really deserves a top seat. Hes a much better driver than Perez or Di Resta the way I see it

  13. Hulkenberg one second behind Massa with the same engine but a far inferior chassis.

    I think Ferrari go with Kimi though since Alonso is on a hiding to nothing with Hulkenberg as teammate.

  14. dragoll (@dragoll) said on 8th September 2013, 21:25

    I was really happy watching Hulk yesterday, as he quite rightly says himself, he was under pressure and he didn’t put a foot wrong. He defended strongly throughout the race and fully deserved his spot in the top 10… Go HULK!

  15. Now I would be sulking if Ferrari retains based on Monza. Ferrari can see its future with Hulk and/or Jules in the post Alonso era.

    Also yesterday I found EJ’s comment amusing about Fernando thinking of a sabbatical. I strongly doubt but then it’s EJ’s statement.

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