The Sahara Force India Formula One Team’s Nico Hulkenberg will start Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix from 13th place on the grid despite qualifying in 10th place after the stewards at the Shanghai International Circuit handed the German a three place grid penalty as a wheel came off Hulk’s car during qualifying. The stewards deemed that Force India had released Hulkenberg from his pit box in an unsafe manner.

Speaking before the penalty was applied, Hulkenberg stated:

To be honest I don’t know what happened. We all saw that the wheel came off, but why and how, I don’t know. It was attached properly when we left the garage because everything felt normal. It didn’t feel loose and there was no indication from the steering. When it came off, it happened suddenly, but I was at low speed and could park the car quickly and safely. It’s disappointing because we’ve been competitive here this weekend and I would have liked to be out there during Q3. The race tomorrow is going to be interesting and hopefully things will work out a bit better than today.

Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez will start the race from seventh place on the grid and speaking following the session, the Mexican stated:

I am very happy with the car’s performance this afternoon. Even this morning, in the rain, we looked really competitive and to finish the day in seventh place is a result that shows the potential of our car. We made some steps forward with the balance overnight and we saw the result of that today. The track was slippery in places and it was very easy to make mistakes, but we kept our focus and came away with the result we deserved. It should be an interesting race tomorrow, with a few different strategic choices, and I am optimistic about scoring some good points. Tyre degradation will be one of the key factors in the race, but I feel we have a good understanding of all the compounds and can choose the right strategy.

Sahara Force India Chief Operating Officer Otmar Szafnauer commented by saying:

We’ve looked competitive here in all conditions so it was good to see both cars inside the top ten this afternoon. Sergio had a clean session and delivered a good lap in the final moments of Q3 to secure seventh on the grid. It was disappointing to see the issue with Nico’s wheel towards the end of Q2, which prevented him from going out in the final part of qualifying. It’s unusual to see a wheel come off and we need to investigate the issue further to understand exactly what happened. Looking ahead to the race tomorrow, I think we have every reason to be optimistic of scoring points. Hopefully, a clean race will allow us to show the true potential of our car and fight towards the front.

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