Nico Hulkenberg, Racing Point, Silverstone, 2020

Hulkenberg surprised by third on grid in second race since return

2020 70th Anniversary Grand Prix

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Nico Hulkenberg said he didn’t expect to qualify as high as third on the grid in his second race since returning to Formula 1.

The Racing Point driver was called up as a substitute driver for Sergio Perez nine days ago, shortly before practice began for last weekend’s race.

“Last weekend was really extreme,” said Hulkenberg. “A Formula 1 comeback within 10 hours, just getting back in the paddock without any kind of preparation 10 minutes before a session, it was challenging to say the least. But good fun at the same time.”

Hulkenberg was under threat of elimination when he ran wide during Q2, but recovered to grab a place in the top 10.

“Quali was good,” he said. “In Q2 I made life a bit hard myself going off in the first run.

“Then in Q3 I just didn’t think much. I was giving it everything, trying to squeeze everything out of the car and the tyres and myself which is also a challenge this weekend. And I’m quite happy to be here.”

Hulkenberg said he didn’t expect to qualify with only the two Mercedes drivers ahead of him: “I think we had always good one-lap pace. I was pretty confident we can make it into the top 10.

“To be third, I couldn’t really expect that. And also didn’t really think too much about it, to be honest. So, of course a bit of a surprise, but I think for today a nice one to take.”

His starting position gives him an opportunity to finally score the first podium finish of his 177-race career. However given his lack of recent race experience – he failed to start last week due to an engine problem – Hulkenberg says his priority is ensuring he capitalises on the potential his starting position offers.

“It’s very challenging and difficult circumstances,” he said. “But I know I have a fast car beneath me. So it’s just trying to make sure to do everything right.

“The start and lap one, it’s going to be also new for me, but I’ll just try to get it right with all the experience that I have. And then we’ll race.

“I’m a couple of races behind the other guys but I still remember what it feels like. I’ll just trying not to think too much, just keep my head down and have a good race tomorrow.”

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Keith Collantine
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38 comments on “Hulkenberg surprised by third on grid in second race since return”

  1. Glad to see him destroy Stroll so soon. That car is making Lance look better than he is.

    1. Funny how luck works, though. I mean, Stroll does have a podium, right?

  2. Given the luck this bloke has, I fully expect a torpedo from behind to wipe him out at the first corner…

    But at the same time, I feel like this could be the perfect fairytale for Nico.

    Well, until Racing Point gets DQ’d on sporting/technical grounds

    1. He already has a torpedo starting besides him on the second row.

  3. Max keeps talking Nico up, so could he be up for contention for the RBR seat?

    1. Jelle van der Meer (@)
      8th August 2020, 16:39

      Fingers crossed – it would be a really good thing to happen. Albon back to Toro Rosso and Kvyat exit F1.
      Obvious great for Hulkenberg
      Also good for Red Bull – a experienced F1 driver to help develop the car
      Very good for the fans and F1 that a good F1 driver gets a seat and is not sidelined due to rich kids, politics or other BS.

      1. Will never happen. Red Bull will only add drivers from their own young drivers’ program to the Red Bull teams’ F1 driver line-up.

        1. @FHV
          Verstappen proves you’re wrong.

      2. Lucky Wookiee Ten Dollar
        8th August 2020, 20:34

        I think that’s a bit harsh. Kvyat acquitted himself pretty well in the short time he had in Red Bull alongside someone of Ricciardo’s calibre.

        George Russell by all accounts is pretty good, won the crap out of F2 a couple of years ago. If he were parachuted into Mercedes right now though, I’d expect Hamilton, who’s at the top of his game and has been there for years, to destroy him, and his confidence.

        Red Bull seem to keep making the same mistake over and over again. “You have to be as quick as Verstappen within n races or you’re out”.

        1. @Lucky Wookiee Ten Dollar
          “Red Bull seem to keep making the same mistake over and over again. “You have to be as quick as Verstappen within n races or you’re out”.”

          But that’s not true.

          It is: Accept the fact that you’re on average 2-4 tenths slower and be a great secondant. Don’t get stuck in chasing those couple of tenths because you dig yourself in a hole. Just be a Rubens.
          One might say: Being Vestappen’s teammate is the easiest job in the world because literally no one in the paddock and from the press expects you to beat him consistently. (Nor does Red Bull)

          People seem to forget that last year the pressure on Gasly from the press became so high, the only solution left was to demote him to the sister team and get his confidence back. Just watch any tv-show, youtube channel or read any article; everyone wanted him to go and they made it clear in pretty harsh statements. (especially when he got lapped twice in a row)

          Granted, I think it’s easier for someone to do that who is in his late twenties/early thirties, has proven him to be very solid, has accepted the fact he probably will never become WDC and sees everything he gets as a plus.
          So, Hulkenberg would be a great choice imo.

    2. Jose Lopes da Silva
      8th August 2020, 17:07

      Who was the last driver coming to Red Bull that did not come from the driver’s program?
      Wasn’t it Webber, in a previous decade?
      Aside from Vettel, Ricciardo, Sainz, Hartley, Buemi or DJ Alguersuari, we would be just speculating about someone coming from the outside.

      I’d like to see Da Costa in Alpha Tauri. He deserves the chance. And if Hartley did it, so can Da Costa.

      1. @Jose Lopes da Silva Yes, Webber indeed, and that was a move for 2007 from Williams.

        1. Actually it was Verstappen, RB only started to sponsor/support him a couple of races into his F3 season I think?

          1. your right! Max never joined their program but got a seat in Torro Rosso straight away.

    3. @pironitheprovocateur This is too sensible a suggestion for this to actually happen, this is F1!!!

      RB have painted themselves into a corner with snide comments to other teams about lack of driver promotion from within. It will cost too much political capital and lost ego for this to happen unfortunately.

      1. @chimaera2003
        “RB have painted themselves into a corner with snide comments to other teams about lack of driver promotion from within. It will cost too much political capital and lost ego for this to happen unfortunately.”

        Hmmmm, given the fact that of the current grid 7 of the 20 drivers 9 (35%) are (ex)-RBR drivers, and we saw 2 podiums last year with only (ex)-RBR drivers, I do believe they still have a lot of capital left and wouldn’t lose any ego whatsoever.

        I’m convinced people would actually applaud the decision.

        1. I personally would fully commend the decision as i think it is in the best interests of RBR and by extension F1. I would see this as a strength and not a weaknesses. I think my this POV will be widely shared as you state.

          What I was getting at is that it will need Dr Marko to in effect admit that he has not fully succeeded (he hasn’t failed as he has nurtured Verstappen) in one of his core roles in finding young world class talent to nurture and put in RBR F1 cars. His past record whilst good as you point out will likely not count for much in the cutthroat world of F1 on this occasion.

          From where I am sitting he is not universally liked within the paddock (probably doesn’t care anyway) so there will be plenty of people who would not need a second invitation to stick the boot in.

    4. They are good buddies apparently – Hulk apparently lives very close to the Dutch border and speaks fluent Flemish – apparently he does all his dutch TV interviews in Dutch.

  4. Please can someone give this guy a drive?!

  5. Good for The Hulk, indeed. Any idea if/what he is paid for the “RP” gig?

    1. I think (i.e.

      1. Stupid phone….

        I think (i.e. not 100% sure). He was the only superlicence holder available last weekend.

  6. 2 days in the sim, 3 tenths ahead of Stroll.

    1. Yes. It is really shocking. RP should get Vettel and Hulkenberg for next year. Their two drivers must be rubish.

  7. Happy for Hulk, very happy to see Stroll Jr. being put in his place so quickly and comprehensively.

  8. Well, no one really expected that, and am so happy that maybe, just MAYBE, an overdue podium is on the cards here!

  9. It’d be quite a fairytale for Hulkenberg to finally grab a very overdue podium, not least because of being parachuted in at the last minute, but also not even managing to start the last race. While I’d be over the moon to see him grab a podium, knowing what that guy’s luck is like… I worry. I do think he’s done more than enough to prove he should be still on the grid though.

    Have to wonder if he’s giving other teams some reason to doubt their driver lineups. Staying at Racing Point’s a very outside bet but possible. Haas/Alfa Romeo are most likely if such a thing happens, though Red Bull probably shouldn’t be ruled out completely.

    1. Lucky Wookiee Ten Dollar
      8th August 2020, 20:46

      I’m honestly surprised Ferrari never picked him up. Especially with that race number.

      1. I wonder how different could Nico’s career have been if he got that victory at Interlagos 8 years ago. Not that he could fight or the championship in the years coming, but he could definitely get some good results in case he’d signed for Ferrari. He was definitely more motivated than Raikkonen.

  10. If Hulk gets a podium tomorrow, this will be one of the very few feel-good stories in F1 in last 5 years.

    1. I think he gets a top 3 finish when Lewis, Botta or Max don’t finish the race.

    2. Stevan Vasiljević
      9th August 2020, 9:36

      Räikkönen’s victory in USA in 2018. was the last such moment for me. Hulk’s podium would certainly be the next one.

  11. I would like to see him next to Magnussen in a Haas with some more power. Btw, not funny to be Stroll tonight… He’s destroyed.

  12. Pedro Andrade
    8th August 2020, 20:04

    … and Lance Stroll is the one whose seat is secure?

    1. That’s how the world works Pedro

  13. Magnussen is quite a lot slower than Grosjean lately

    1. And Grosjean is not that fast either.

  14. Lol His second quali in a brand new car.. and platteres “the faster” of the two pay drivers.

    And this is in a good car. We were often wondering what would Hulk do in a good car? There we go. P3, P1 in class(Not Mercedes class).

    If he gets a podium this weekend, i’ll be having a celebratory drink… And I am not even a fan. But fast I am becoming one. Guy is inspiring.

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