Hulkenberg raises his game

Nico Hulkenberg has had a poor start to the 2010 season. Turfing the car in Bahrain and then being clouted by Kamui Kobayashi’s Sauber in Australia are two incidents the rookie German would probably like to forget. Williams F1 has been reliant on the performances of veteran Rubens Barrichello but this weekend could change that.

Hulkenberg has qualified in P5 for the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday besting his teammate Barrichello who secured P7 for the race. Hulkenberg has been lackluster compared to his Brazilian teammate but a wet qualifying session provided Williams with their best starting place of the season and will play heavily in their battle for the 5th team in F1. A race that is heating up between Renault, Williams and Force India. Hulkenberg said:

Finally we had a bit of a breakthrough today. It was very tight out there and my lap wasn’t perfect so I
could have done a little better, but I’m happy where I am and I’m happy for the team as well. The car
has proved to be good in wet conditions and I like driving in the wet, so I’m looking forward to the
race. A lot will depend on what the weather will do tomorrow though.

Barrichello is less ecstatic as he feels he left some pace on the track due to his tire choice for Q3:

There are two ways to look at qualifying. The positive is that we are happy as a team, but I don’t think
we would have achieved P5 and P7 in a dry session. In hindsight, I should have chosen intermediates
for my last run, which would have given me a better lap time. I’m still pleased as we are better
prepared for tomorrow.

Hulkenberg is the 2009 GP2 champion and comes very highly rated, and managed, so it is with some surprise that he has not done better but in defense of his position, Australia’s incident was not his fault and the Bahrain off course excursion could be for numerous reasons. No question the young man is talented and I, for one, would like to see him do well in Malaysia.

People expect Barrichello to come to grips with the rain and be Williams best chance for scoring points but there was a lot of expectations on Hulkenberg as well–mainly that he would beat his veteran teammate. This weekend may go a long way in building confidence in the young German if he can finish strong and keep the car on the island during tomorrow’s race.

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