Melbourne: Nico Hulkenberg was seventh fastest for Force India in a wet qualifying session at the Formula 1 season-opening Australian Grand Prix here Saturday. His teammate Sergio Perez was the 16th fastest. Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes snatched pole position from Red Bull debutant Daniel Ricciardo while Nico Rosberg set the third best time in the other Silver Arrow.
Hulkenberg did well in his Force India return and will start Sunday's race from the fourth row. "Everything went well today and it was an entertaining session, which I really enjoyed. It was the first time I've driven the new car in the wet, but right away I felt comfortable and confident with a nice balance on the intermediates and the wets," said Hulkenberg on the action-packed qualifying of F1's turbo era.
"There was a good harmony between me and the car, and the team did a great job helping me manage the traffic. Looking ahead to tomorrow, it really is a step into the unknown for everyone. I think we are well prepared and I'm really looking forward to the race where points will be our target," added the German. (Also read: Sebastian Vettel bewildered by qualifying flop)
Perez, in his first season with the Silverstone squad, found it tough in the rain. "It was not an easy session, especially Q2, and unfortunately we didn't manage to get a good lap in the wet conditions. It was hard to find clear space with the traffic and I had to pit for new tyres when the track was probably at its best. When I left the pits for my final attempt I locked the rear tyres going into turn three, lost control and could not recover," said the Mexican.
Force India are aiming to be in the top five throughout the season after finishing sixth last year.