Hulkenberg: I drove one of the best races in my career so far

Nico Hulkenberg kept the big guns at bay to claim fourth place in the Korean GP

Nico Hulkenberg kept the big guns at bay to claim fourth place in the Korean GP

Sauber driver Nico Hulkenberg equaled his career-best performance with a fourth-place finish at Sunday’s Korean Grand Prix, in a result that could make millions of dollars difference to the financially strapped team.

Hulkenberg put in a superb defensive drive over the closing stages of the race – holding off world champions Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button – to take fourth place that matched his effort at Belgium last year.

The 12 points moved Sauber up to 31 in the constructors’ championship, level with Toro Rosso for seventh place. While the precise amounts of prize money for team placings in F1 is confidential and only determined at season’s end, the difference between seventh and eighth is expected to be around $3 million.

“Today I drove one of the best races in my career so far,” said Hulkenberg, who was briefly overtaken by Hamilton in the closing stages but kept his cool and retook the position a short time later on the main straight.

Nico Hulkenberg celebrates fourth place with Monisha Kaltenborn in Korea

Nico Hulkenberg celebrates fourth place with Monisha Kaltenborn in Korea

“I had a real good slip stream and was able to get past on the outside,” the German said. “A big thank you to the entire team for providing such an excellent car today.”

The mature performance will further enhance the reputation of Hulkenberg, who had been linked this year with moves to Ferrari and McLaren, but who is most likely to replace Kimi Raikkonen at Lotus in 2014.

“We went into the race with high expectations and it is a great feeling that we were able to meet these through our own strengths,” team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said. “Nico put in a superb performance and, once again, great fight, as it definitely was not easy to keep those cars behind him.”

Rookie teammate Esteban Gutierrez also matched his career best by finishing 11th, though the young Mexican was frustrated with being just outside the points after starting from eighth on the grid.

“It’s a great experience and will help me to improve my race craft,” Gutierrez said. (AFP)

  • MightyK

    Way to go, Hulk ! You’re day is coming.

  • Tinto

    Yes, you did it mate, hats off!

    So called “higher rank” drivers as arogantly and laughable Lewis put it today about himself and Alonso (coincidently both twitter masters), could not do it by himself, asking, amusingly, his team if anyone has any suggestions of how he can get past the Hulk.

    Very pround and thankful of you and Romain’s drives today.

  • Boycottthebull

    Lotus get the hint, you would be blind to take Massa instead.

  • Ranger Steve

    Utterly brilliant drive!!! One of the best in recent years by anyone, imo.

    Well done Hulk! Now all he needs to do is NOT sign with LOLtus!!!

  • abhinav

    Mclaren stop thinking bout Alonso, take Hulk instead and give him a winning Mclaren Honda in 2015, he will surely cook some asses

  • Bakerman

    McLaren should ditch Perez (who still hasn’t signed a contract) and get Hulkenberg. This man deserves a good car in a good team and there’s definite championship material in him.

    Even in 2013 he has proven to be a better driver than most of the rest of the grid.

    Ferrari were stupid to not sign him up, Lotus should sign him immediately, McLaren should replace Perez with him and even Red Bull should have chosen him over Ricciardo and listening to what Horner has said about Hulkenberg they would have done so had there not been the fact that Ricciardo is already in the Red Bull family.

    BUT, what if Sauber get that big Russian money and will be able to make a car capable of podium in 2014? WHAT IF? Lotus is also having financial issues so they might go backwards in 2014 (there’s a chance) with all the technical people leaving them.

    Here’s hoping 2014 sees Hulkenberg get his first podium and his first race win in F1.

    Who knows, given the right car/team he might end up a championship contender.

  • MacStar

    Great Drives by HULK and KIMI, hard to choose between the two in this race, they were simply amazing!

  • McLarenfan

    Hulkenberg for 2014 would be an asset!!!
    Alonso is a Ferrari driver from now till his end, he has 1 interest Alonso never the team Lets hope he gets the “Kimi is faster than you”.