Hulkenberg says penalty his own fault

Autosport

Nico Hulkenberg accepted the blame for the gearbox-change penalty he will get for Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix.

The Force India driver lost control of his car during the final practice session at Suzuka, damaging the front and forcing his team to replace the gearbox after making contact with the tyre wall.

The gearbox change means the German will lose five places on the grid after qualifying in 10th position.

"It was a bit of a tricky day, starting with my accident this morning. That wasn't in the schedule," said Hulkenberg. "We made the most of it and the mechanics did a fantastic job to turn the car around in the first place.

"We whizzed into Q3 and we have to pay the price now for this morning because we damaged the gearbox.

"I'm in the car, so I'm responsible for what happened. It wasn't a silly mistake, just a small lock-up and with the way that corner is, there was no way to recover it. The timing was pretty bad and now we have to deal with the situation as best as we can."

Hulkenberg decided not to post a time in Q3 in order to save tyres, and he will have a fresh set of soft rubber for the race.

"Given where we were, we didn't think we can get much further up than 10th so we decided not to run to save tyres and give us the flexibility of what to start on," he added.

"The target is always trying to get points. We're more in the back of the field, so we need to survive the first lap and I don't know where we will end up. Hopefully we can squeeze ourselves into the points."

Team-mate Paul di Resta was knocked out in Q2 and qualified in 12th position, but the Scot said he was pleased with his effort after missing all of Friday's second practice following his crash.

"There was a tenth in there. I came across [Romain] Grosjean at the Degner 2 and the hairpin and just lost a bit of downforce," di Resta said. "The car is very sensitive to the cars in front of it. I wouldn't say it was a mistake, but I just slightly locked an inside front wheel and didn't have the grip.

"Other than that, it was good and we both matched each other the rest of the way. Other than that, it was a shame not to make it into Q3. We can be quite happy with having a new set of tyres for tomorrow.

"Given the loss of track time yesterday, we should be grateful of where we qualified. It's nice to be in a position where we can challenge."

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