Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, Hockenheimring, 2019

Hulkenberg: Hockenheim drag strip run-off not up to F1 standard

2019 German Grand Prix

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Nico Hulkenberg says the drag strip run-off which he crashed on during the German Grand Prix was not up to F1 standard.

The Renault driver retired from the race when he crashed after straying onto the run-off and losing grip. He said it was no consolation to know that other drivers, including Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc, Kimi Raikkonen and Carlos Sainz Jnr, had spun or crashed at the same corner.

“It doesn’t help,” he said. “It doesn’t recover anything, it doesn’t soothe the pain. It just shows that something was wrong in that corner, with the run-off area.

“But unfortunately all the others – apart from Charles, he was on slicks so that’s different again – kind of went off differently. Probably bigger mistakes but they spun and they had a chance to recover.

“The way I went off and the angle I went off I had no chance of recovery. That’s very frustrating and very painful because it’s something that in that time I couldn’t correct any more.”

Hulkenberg said he’d never experienced a run-off with as little grip as the drag strip section on the exit of turn 15. He described it as “something that’s not in line with our normal standards” in Formula 1.

“In a way, also, a bit on safety because when you can’t control a car it’s never safe,” he added. “We saw Lewis wasn’t far off hitting Charles’s car. So not great there.”

FIA race director Michael Masi said the drag strip “looked fine” following his post-race inspection of the circuit. However Hulkenberg spoke to Masi on Thursday morning and believes it will be changed if Hockenheim holds a round in the 2020 F1 calendar.

“Maybe his opinion’s different now,” said Hulkenberg. “I mean it was clear if you look at the TV footage, what other proof do you need? Just look at the images. We were just passengers there. You can’t do nothing.”

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11 comments on “Hulkenberg: Hockenheim drag strip run-off not up to F1 standard”

  1. Run-offs with consequences? 😀

  2. Yeah I don’t quite get it. If there was gravel it wouldn’t have been any easier to control, just as dangerous. Just as equal a chance of Hamilton hitting Leclerc’s car.

    People just complain when things don’t go their way. 🤷‍♂️ It was the run-offs fault! Not my fault for losing control and being there! Nope nope! Sure that corner caught some drivers out, but it didn’t catch all the drivers out, so those that did could do with some introspection rather than seeking something to blame.

  3. I think there’s more to this than “boo-hoo, these drivers are just complaining because they crashed”.

    Taking into account Hulkenberg’s, Norris’ and Sainz’s account of their incidents, it seems like none of them knew that the tarmac w

    1. would be as soapy-slippery as it was. With gravel, it’s different in the sense that you absolutely know you’re screwed if you try to take a trip through it. Sainz and Norris deliberately went on to the tarmac (and for all we know, Nico did so as well, to give himself more space for recovery), but it behaved differently than they expected.

      I’m all for punishment for driver mistakes, but I think that if a driver feels aggravated to have been punished for something he had no idea about, he is justified in his own place.

      The presence of the drag strip itself is not a problem at all, imo, but I can at least see why some drivers are bitter about it. However, Sainz’s response to his mistake was the most appropriate i.e it’s more a case of tough luck than “unfair piece of tarmac”. Also, kudos to Raikkonen for managing to recover well from his own excursion off to the strip.

      1. Kimi, Sainz were on inters when they went off, so it was relatively easier for them to recover compared to Lewis and Leclerc who were on slicks. But what I dont understand is Nico who also was on inters is complaining so much for his mistake.

  4. Ben (@scuderia29)
    2nd August 2019, 8:19

    Finally a run off area you can’t just get away with, it made for some of the best moments of the race if not unfortunate for the individuals. More drag strip run off areas please

  5. The

    if Hockenheim holds a round in the 2020 F1 calendar.

    condition gets another aspect with the talk about the runoff when you realize that the drag-races, contrary to the F1-race, actually generate income for the circuit.

  6. Matteo (@m-bagattini)
    2nd August 2019, 8:36

    And that’s another reason why I don’t agree with all those people saying “listen to the drivers to know what’s better for F1”

    @neutronstar if after one or two errors the engineers didn’t warn their respective drivers by radio “be careful at turn 16, run off is very slippery and you end up in the gravel”, if Charles was able to do the same mistake more than once… well, the problem wasn’t the strip itself

    1. @m-bagattini: Absolutely agree. Additionally, it’s always claimed that F1 is the pinnacle of motorsport where billions of dollars are spent each year. This drag strip was also there in the previous years, hence it should have been known that the high amount of rubber on its surface could be dangerous in wet conditions. After all, the only reason drivers did not complain back in 2012 already because no one went of at that turn 16 during qualifying (?).

      There is no reason that each corner must have the same strictness in terms of punishing mistakes. If there are corners that punish mistakes more severly, you either take a more cautious approach and lose time in these or you drive more on the limit and risk a potential DNF.

  7. You weren’t racing on the drag strip. Stay off it and there’s no issue. The same applies to gravel, tarmac, grass, whatever.

    I’m all for every track having that surface all the way round beyond the limits of the track’s kerb + astro strip!

  8. Hulkenberg’s words are an embarrassment.

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