Hulk: Force India can repeat 2011 surge
German ace confident team can at least pass Williams in standings
Last Updated: 23/08/12 10:48am
Nico Hulkenberg retains faith that Force India can repeat their feat from last year and outdevelop their chief midfield rivals over the second half of the season and move up in the Constructors' Championship.
The Silverstone-based outfit finished 2011 as one of the grid's form teams, ultimately falling just a handful of points short of pipping the team now known as Lotus to fifth in the standings, yet this year have generally been outpaced by both resurgent Sauber and Williams, particularly in race conditions.
Force India will resume the season in Belgium next weekend in eighth place in the championship, 34 points adrift of Sauber but only seven behind Williams, and Hulkenberg is confident they will at least be able to overhaul the latter over the remaining nine rounds.
"We already showed last year that our development speed is very competitive and I do not see a reason why we shouldn't be able to repeat that again," the German told the official F1 website.
"We're only seven points shy of Williams and I think we can catch them. I don't know whether it's possible to catch Sauber. It will be difficult, but the whole team will try their very best, that's for sure."
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While their two chief rivals have both claimed podium finishes - and in Williams' case a race win - over what proved an unpredictable start to the campaign, Hulkenberg's fifth-place finish from Valencia remains Force India's best result.
Both the German and team-mate Paul di Resta slipped backwards in race conditions from strong grid berths in both Germany and Hungary and Hulkenberg admits that as things stood before the summer break Force India's VJM05 wasn't quick enough to beat the cars ahead in the championship on outright pace
"Well, although we improved our car, we have to be realistic. Pace-wise we are still behind Sauber, Williams and all the frontrunners," he said.
"This means, that we have the chance to beat Williams, Sauber or Mercedes when our weekend goes completely smoothly and they struggle. In qualifying this happens more often, but in the race they have 50, 60, 70 laps to get their faster cars in front of ours. So our race pace actually shows us where we really are."