• Italian Grand Prix

Hulkenberg surprised at Sauber pace

ESPN Staff
September 8, 2013 « Strong defence pleases Ricciardo | 'We know where we went wrong' - Mercedes »
Nico Hulkenberg: "It was quite hard and challenging" © Sutton Images
Related Links

Nico Hulkenberg was surprised how close he managed to get to the front runners at the Italian Grand Prix after finishing fifth behind the Red Bulls and Ferraris.

Hulkenberg crossed the line just 0.9s behind Felipe Massa's Ferrari in fourth and held off a challenge from Nico Rosberg's Mercedes towards the end of the race. Hulkenberg said he was expecting to be competitive after showing strong pace in Friday practice but had not banked on taking the fight to the top four.

"After Saturday I was quite confident we would have good race pace, but to be that strong, especially in the final stint and in the last 15 laps where I really caught up with the Ferraris and Red Bulls, I was quite surprised," he said. "But it wasn't an easy race. It was quite hard and challenging from Nico behind, he didn't leave me alone at all. I wasn't allowed to make any mistakes and he really kept me busy."

Hulkenberg has been rumoured as a potential replacement for Felipe Massa at Ferrari next year, but he is not expecting a decision to be made based on Sunday's result.

"I don't expect anything. It's one result, a good weekend and a strong showing. It was a good team performance but I don't think one race will change the world and the whole story."