• Italian Grand Prix - Qualifying

Hulkenberg baffled by surprise pace

ESPN Staff
September 7, 2013 « Webber buoyed by strong Monza showing | Radio messages misleading - Alonso »
Nico Hulkenberg took a surprise third place on the grid in Monza © Sutton Images
Related Links

Nico Hulkenberg says he has no idea where his top three grid position at the Italian Grand Prix came from after struggling earlier in the weekend.

Hulkenberg will start from third in the Sauber on Sunday after springing a surprise on the likes of Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren to line up as the best of the rest behind the Red Bulls. His time of 1:24.065 was only 0.010s off Mark Webber in second and by far the fastest lap of his weekend after finishing 12th in the final free practice session.

Asked where his lap had come from, he said: "I don't know either. It was really a nice surprise to myself. I didn't expect this after a very difficult Friday and we struggled a lot with the car, trying different bits and bobs.

"The team has done a fantastic job to turn the car around and give me such a competitive car today. In Q1, Q2 and Q3 the car just got better and better with the track improvement and with the right decision to god for one timed lap. It was a burning hot lap which made this surprise happen."

Scoring solid points is Hulkenberg's goal on Sunday and he dismissed suggestions he could challenge for a podium like Sergio Perez did for Sauber last year at Monza.

"Last year was a very different year and last year Sauber was very competitive in a lot of races," he said. "This year we have been struggling more and have had a more difficult year. I hope the long-run pace is good, and from what I saw yesterday it should be alright, but I don't think we can challenge Red Bull but definitely points are now the target."