Hulkenberg says red flag cost him chance of Spa podium

Nico Hulkenberg reckons the early red flag period during the Belgian Grand Prix cost him a shot at his first ever Formula 1 podium finish.

Hulkenberg says red flag cost him chance of Spa podium
Nico Hulkenberg, Sahara Force India F1 in the pits as the race is stopped
Nico Hulkenberg, Sahara Force India F1 VJM09
Nico Hulkenberg, Sahara Force India F1 VJM09
Felipe Massa, Williams FW38 and Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India F1 VJM09 battle for position
Nico Hulkenberg, Sahara Force India
Nico Hulkenberg, Sahara Force India F1 VJM09
Nico Hulkenberg, Sahara Force India F1 VJM09
Nico Hulkenberg, Sahara Force India F1 VJM09

Having started seventh, the Force India driver was running third when Renault's Kevin Magnussen suffered a heavy crash at Raidillon, leading to the race being brought to a halt.

With second-placed Daniel Ricciardo able to get his damaged front wing repaired and fifth-placed Lewis Hamilton getting a free tyre stop under red flag conditions, Hulkenberg's podium chance was all but over.

At the restart, Ricciardo was able to pull away, while Hamilton soon closed in and passed the Force India driver for third.

It meant the German had to settle for fourth, albeit equalling his career best result in F1 - his third time in the same position.

"I had a mega start, mega first lap, there was a bit of a thingy going on between Max [Verstappen] and the Ferraris [at Turn 1]," said Hulkenberg.

"I was able to profit from that, found myself in second. On the supersoft tyres it was going well, I was behind Nico [Rosberg], pulling away from the people behind me.

"Then unfortunately the red flag came and neutralised the whole race, which was a bit frustrating at that moment."

Battle with Williams

Despite the missed podium chance, both Hulkenberg and teammate Sergio Perez had reason to smile, with Force India taking fourth from Williams in the constructors' standings.

"We’re very happy from that point of view," added Hulkenberg. "But we want to be fourth on Sunday night on Abu Dhabi. There are still eight races to go and a long way.

"It’s going to be a really tight battle with Williams until then, it’s important we do our homework and capitalise on days like today when the big teams are struggling, be there to pick up the points.

"We are competitive, we have a good package, bring it on."

With Perez managing fifth, the Spa race marked the first time Force India had a double top five finish since the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix.

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