Sauber's Hulkenberg almost in Q3 at Spa-Francorchamps

Nico Hülkenberg missed Q3 by just three hundredths of a second.

The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps once again lived up to its reputation: just before the start of qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix it started to rain. All the drivers changed to intermediate tyres.

Nico Hulkenberg, Sauber C32
Nico Hulkenberg, Sauber C32

Photo by: XPB Images

During Q1 the circuit dried, so some drivers changed to slicks at the end of the first session. The qualifying didn’t go at all to plan for the Sauber F1 Team.

Esteban Gutiérrez, who showed strong skills before this weekend, was knocked out in Q1 by qualifying 21st, because timing for the second set of intermediates wasn’t right. Nico Hülkenberg had tough luck as well and missed Q3 by just three hundredths of a second.

Nico Hülkenberg (Qualifying: 11th in Q2): “It was a tricky day again qualifying in weather conditions like these. This morning I was struggling a bit on the medium tyre. Again this afternoon it wasn’t’ the easiest, but I guess that’s the same for everyone with the weather, as it’s always challenging.

It was a wet Q1, which is always exciting, but I think we did a solid job there. We were only missing about three hundredths to get into Q3. P11 seems to stick to me. But it’s a good starting point for tomorrow. I hope we have a good race pace, so that we can score some points.”

Esteban Gutiérrez (Qualifying: 21st in Q1): “I’m much happier with the car today. We were able to solve the issues we had in FP2 yesterday. Everything was looking good until the last part of Q1. We changed to a new set of intermediates too early, and that was the wrong choice. The track was drying and the tyres were gone after one lap, which was the main issue.

There is not much we could have done at that moment, when the decision was already made, but I tried to do the best with what I had. In these weather conditions, it all comes down to the right tyre selection. Tomorrow will be a gamble too as the forecast is changeable. It will come down to the strategy, so we have to be very flexible, open to everything and very efficient. Whether it’s a dry or a wet race, we need to get it right.”

Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal: “The result today does not reflect our true potential. We came ever so close to our direct competitors this weekend and made a step forward. That’s why I’m not satisfied with the result, particularly because we missed Q3 yet again by just three hundredths of a second. The chance to still score points in the race tomorrow is quite high, so we will concentrate on that now.”

Tom McCullough, Head of Track Engineering: “We were happy with the overnight changes we made, and the cars performed well in the dry FP3. It was a typical eventful, wet-dry Spa-Francorchamps qualifying. Ultimately, for Esteban we didn’t make the most of it going out in Q1.

For Nico it was frustrating in Q2 being so close to make it to Q3. Maybe we were a bit conservative running the new tyre a bit earlier than some of the competition. But this is a circuit where anything can happen in the race, and we’ll make the most with our strategy tomorrow.”

Sauber F1 Team

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Nico Hulkenberg , Esteban Gutierrez
Teams Sauber
Article type Qualifying report
Tags gutierrez, hulkenberg, sauber, spa