Nico Hulkenberg has admitted that he was “dreaming” of finishing inside the points at the Japanese Grand Prix.
Hulkenberg started the race from 18th on the grid, but a strong start saw him progress up to 12th in the opening laps.
Ahead of the weekend, Suzuka was expected to pose one of the biggest challenges of the season for Haas with the VF-23 suffering from high tyre degradation, with Suzuka a 'high deg' race.
Having not scored points in a Grand Prix since Australia, Hulkenberg has revealed that he thought his strong start would be rewarded with a top 10 finish.
“Maybe earlier the beginning of the race, maybe I was hoping and dreaming about it [scoring points],” Hulkenberg told media including RacingNews365.
“But then as the race went on, you know, people were just outpacing us and it was slipping away from us.”
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‘Better than expected’
Despite Haas’ expectation that it would struggle around the Japanese circuit last weekend, Hulkenberg says the race was more positive than it originally anticipated.
“Maybe actually it was a bit better than expectation,” Hulkenberg said. “It was a clean race, I had a good first lap. I picked up quite a few positions.
‘We even had some Safety Car [intervention] to help us with tyre wear and all that kind of stuff.
“Still, I three stopped which was the intention but still it was a lot of management, a lot of looking after the tyres.
“Good execution and a clean race but ultimately we’re not quick enough. That’s why we’re 30 seconds away from P10 which is quite a lot.”