SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 08: Nico Hulkenberg of Germany driving the (27) Renault Sport Formula One Team Renault RS17 on track during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 8, 2017 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg qualified seventh for tomorrow’s Chinese Grand Prix with a brilliant performance that underlies the team’s current potential. It was also the first Q3 appearance for the Renault Sport Formula One Team.

The German extracted the maximum performance possible with the car in its current configuration with the limited about of running the team has had here this weekend due to the majority of Friday being cancelled due to adverse weather conditions.

This performance reinforces the French team’s belief that they have a good basis for ongoing development.

“When we started driving in FP3 I felt immediately positive and happy with the car and its balance,” Nico said. “It felt better and more together than in Melbourne, and perhaps this track suits our car a little better too. I think from FP3 to qualifying, we were able to improve the car; I was happy, I was confident and it was a nice surprise when I heard the position over the radio. The forecast says rain for tomorrow, which brings its own challenges, but whatever happens I’ll approach the race open minded and do my best.”

Teammate Jolyon Palmer set the ninth fastest time in FP3 prior to qualifying, but was caught out by having to slow for yellow flags on his crucial qualifying run in Q1, ending the session with the 18th fastest time.

“The car felt good today; I was ninth in FP3 so there’s clearly pace,” Jolyon said. “I then had a flat spot on the first run during Q1, which made my second run critical. That lap was going well – to comfortably put me into Q2 – when the yellow flags came out and I had to lift. It’s really frustrating but at least we can see the potential is there. The car feels great but it’s all to do tomorrow.”