Nico Hulkenberg thinks Sauber’s recent progress is genuine and not just down to a boost from Formula 1’s change of tires.
Following its strongest team qualifying performance of the year, with both Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez making it to Q3, hopes are high of another decent points haul in the Korean Grand Prix.
“I think we’ve been good since Spa,” said Hulkenberg, when asked to pinpoint where the team’s recent improvements were coming from. “I think there is definitely some progress, and some evidence of that. Probably a combination of different tires, quite big updates, understanding of the car and setup, etc. I think all that together makes us a Q3 contender.”
Hulkenberg said that the rear car imbalance issue that had affected the car since the start of the season had not been eradicated completely yet, but progress was being made. He thinks that his chances of doing even better in qualifying were hampered by his Q3 run not being as strong as his earlier efforts.
“We were struggling,” he said. “We did one timed lap but, for some reason, Esteban and I both had the same. We were struggling more with the car, and the tires didn’t produce as much grip as Q2.
“I lost four tenths on myself, for no obvious reason. It was also not balance related. It just came from the overall grip of the tire. But these things are very sensitive. It was a bit cloudier and with one or two degrees it can drop it out of the window. Also, in terms of our car and in terms of where it is performing, we know we have a small working range.”