New Delhi: Sahara Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg believes that his team would be able to maintain their strong start to the season and offer tough fights to the frontrunners.
The German driver finished among the top six in all three F1 races held this year. He is currently placed third in the Drivers’ standing behind Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.
In Bahrain, Force India reached the second place in the Constructors’ championship, after their Mexican driver Sergio Perez finished on the podium.
This was only the second time that Force India managed to be on the podium.
“I am confident that we will continue to do well when we go to Shanghai for the next GP. We know the track… it suits us.
“At the moment, we are upbeat about our performance,” said Hulkenberg, during a teleconference from Switzerland.
The German, however, made it clear that it would be “a long, long way to go” before leading teams like Mercedes or Ferrari could be toppled.
“I don’t think it would be easy to pip them at the post. I am not surprised that Mercedes are doing so well.
“They have done their job well before the start of the season. They have the resources, the budget… they are big teams. It is tough to counter big budget teams,” Hulkenberg said.
“At the same time, we are doing better than Williams and McLaren. We have similar engines, but still we seem to have the upper hand. We have the better package,” he added.
“In the recent test, we checked out some new parts in the car and made good progress. Though we need to work more, we have got the grip over things,” he opined.
In the Constructors’ championship, Mercedes are leading the show with 111 points, while Force India are distant second with 44.
Asked whether Red Bull and their star driver, Sebastian Vettel, would finally be dethroned as the F1 kings, Hulkenberg said there are indications that Mercedes could have the last laugh at the end of the season.
“It is too early to rule out Red Bull or Vettel… a lot of things can change. We have a long season ahead. But the way things are moving now, it is clear that Mercedes are in control. They have the upper hand.”
Hulkenberg said his own performance could have been better in the Bahrain GP. “I was bit disappointed… it was my mistake and I paid the price.
“I was going well lap-by-lap before the safety car came on to the track. It did hamper my performance. But I am very happy for (Sergio) Perez.
“He didn’t commit a mistake and helped us to finish on a high,” he said.