Nico Hulkenberg has ruled out that Force India could have made it into the final leg of qualifying session at Sepang International Circuit, had the conditions been dry.
Rain storms hit the track at the start of Q2, meaning drivers only managed a single timed lap on slick tyres. Heavy traffic amidst fear of impending rain meant that the session wasn’t a true representation of the pecking order.
However, Hulkenberg insists even it would have stayed bone dry, there was little chance he could have progressed into Q3.
“It was a short qualifying session in the end with the rain arriving quite early in Q2,’’ Hulkenberg commented after qualifying. “Maybe it would have been better for us if the rain had arrived five minutes earlier and Q2 was completely wet because everybody was able to complete a lap on slicks when the track was quite dry. It was only on the in-lap that the skies really opened. As it happens I think it would have been very difficult to reach Q3 anyway.
The German has set his sights on finishing in the points for a second race running, despite the obvious shortcomings of the VJM08.
“The race tomorrow will be tough, especially managing the tyres in the high temperatures. There is always the chance of more rain and that’s when you have to adapt quickly because it’s all about being on the right tyre at the right moment. Whatever happens we will try our best to come away with some points.”
Meanwhile, Sergio Perez rued about being the last driver to exit the pitlane, severely compromising his lap time. The Mexican, however, admitted that 14th place was representative of Force India's true pace.
"It was really tough out there in these conditions,’’ Perez said. “I was the last car out on track in Q2 and that compromised my lap on the mediums - our strategy was the right one but we were just a bit late in going out and by the time I got to sectors two and three the track was starting to get wet.”
“All in all, I think where we are is a fair reflection of our current pace. We are hoping to be in a better position than others tomorrow because our focus has been directed towards the race rather than qualifying. We've seen in Melbourne that anything can happen so I will approach the race aiming for points."