Hulkenberg encouraged by Renault display in China

Renault's Nico Hulkenberg expressed further encouragement at the manufacturer's pace as he comfortably led the midfield group at the Chinese Grand Prix.

After starting in seventh place for the sixth race in a row, the 30-year-old driver held position, and profited from Sebastian Vettel's clash with Max Verstappen to move ahead of his compatriot and collect sixth place.

The result means Hulkenberg has amassed 22 points from the opening trio of races, his best start to a season since 2014.

"Everyone seemed to have low grip at the start with cars sliding all over the place," said the German.

"We were on a two-stop strategy from the beginning, so we had to make the tyre last while maintaining a strong pace. It paid off well, the safety car played into our hands and made things easier, but even without the safety car, I think we would have come out on top.

"The pace was good and we were on top of the midfield, so not a bad day overall. Eight points, we’ll take that home. It was an entertaining one, that’s for sure!"

Renault chief Cyril Abiteboul echoed Hulkenberg's sentiments and believes even without the intervention of the Safety Car, both Carlos Sainz and Hulkenberg would have been able to have the pace to pull off the same result, given the speed of the R.S.18.

"It was obviously a good day for the team which shows we are gaining in maturity," added Abiteboul.

"We had decent starting positions with both cars in the top 10, but that actually put us in a difficult position with our race strategy as we knew we would have to do two stops when the competitors around us were in a position to complete the race with one.

"But thanks to a strong first lap and many very clean overtaking moves from our drivers we made that work.

"The safety car helped slightly but I don’t think it would have changed much. The team is building and getting stronger across the board. Our pace was encouraging."