Nico Hulkenberg, Racing Point, Nurburgring, 2020

Hulkenberg’s Silverstone feedback prompted Racing Point suspension upgrades

2020 Eifel Grand Prix

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The suspension upgrade Racing Point recently introduced to their car was prompted by feedback from substitute driver Nico Hulkenberg during his two appearances for the team earlier this year.

Racing Point’s technical director Andrew Green said the “rear suspension and front suspension changes that we made were as a direct result of him driving the car in Silverstone.”

Hulkenberg made an unplanned return for the team at the Nurburgring last weekend after Lance Stroll was taken ill. That gave Hulkenberg an unexpected chance to give feedback on the changes instigated by his previous comments.

“It’s interesting, his feedback, because some of the developments that we put on the car were as a direct result of his feedback in Silverstone,” Green explained. “So his feedback after after the race today was very interesting, very intriguing.

“He mentioned things that he had [wanted to be] changed in the car and how we go about setting the car up and the feel he gets from the car. And we made those changes after Silverstone not expecting him ever to get back in the car again and drive it.

“But lo and behold he does and we get the feedback about the developments we made on the car. So that was really interesting and really important.”

As Hulkenberg only drove the car briefly in Q1 on Saturday, he wasn’t able to give a proper assessment of the car changes until after the race.

“These sort of changes we’re talking about, you can’t adjust to them in four laps, which is effectively what he had to do on Saturday afternoon when he had four flying laps,” said Green. “For him to adjust to the changes that we’ve made since Silverstone was going to be nigh-on impossible.

“So he needed time in the car, which is what he didn’t have. But by the end of the race, he had plenty of time in the car and his feedback was invaluable.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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35 comments on “Hulkenberg’s Silverstone feedback prompted Racing Point suspension upgrades”

  1. Are you 2 listening Helmut and Christian? Hulkenberg next to Verstappen might help developing the car faster during the season next year and maybe Mercedes would not have the championship in the pocket by mid-season…. If only..

    1. Maybe Hulkenberg negotiated a glowing recommendation letter instead of monetary recommendation for this weekend’s services ;)

      1. @coldfly I was thinking exactly the same :D

      2. :-) I am sure everyone at RP is happy to do somethign small to help Nico there. I agree that this kind of thing is exactly what RB could really do with to support their development

    2. Shots fired big time at Red Bull.

    3. I’m sure he could give good advice to RBR on their apparently very “peaky” cars that only seem to suit Verstappen. The question is whether they would take it, because it gets them P2s and P3s right now. (I’m sure Gasly and Albon have given their own advice that is either ineffective or unheeded.)

      My sense is that Newey has a history of creating cars that are not driver friendly and sort of on the edge, from his Leyton House March cars that had cockpits like iron maidens to the McLaren MP4-20/21 with the exhaust in the diffuser that would fly off the road in testing to the blown diffuser cars that even a driver like Webber could not really master. He’s a genius, but he seems to sometimes only build cars for other geniuses.

      1. @dmw Good comment. I just have one question about the Vettel-era though. It is well known (right?) that Vettel was so superior because the Red Bull had a very stable rear back in the period 2010-2013. Something the current Red Bulls are clearly lacking. Both cars were designed by Newey, but when Vettel was thriving in the 2013 Red Bull, he would be drowning in the current car.

    4. @w0o0dy
      Where did RP qualify in Silverstone and in Germany; sure it made the car faster…..?

      But hey, perhaps you should apply at RBR, given your vast amount of F1 experience, your deep insight in set up and car development, your proven record of winning races/bagging championships and your ability to extract some much relevant info from staring at a screen and reading a few internet sites.
      (For all we know it would have prevented Mercedes from winning the title, right?)

      1. @Oconomo Hulkenberg is close to Ricciardo in performance and quite consitant in his results yet I am pretty sure his grasp on car set-up is well beyond what Albon or Gasly put in…

    5. Well said. RP have hired the wrong driver. Seb has lost it. It happens to every driver eventually. Hulk still has it.

  2. Marko said that if Red Bull needs to replace Albon it would be either Pérez or Hülkenberg.
    If Nico can almost immediately pinpoint an improvement which eluded Sergio then that should be an easy choice.

    1. Nicely identified! I agree. Here is hoping…

      1. @antznz you may be left hoping for some time – Di Resta is quoted as saying that members of Red Bull have said that the Thai co-owners of Red Bull are putting a lot of political pressure on the team to keep Albon due to him being an Anglo-Thai dual national.

        His Thai ancestry has made him rather commercially valuable to Red Bull in their home market – something Marko has alluded to before – and those commercial interests mean he’s likely to retain his seat.

    2. @Bart Interesting if he indeed has said that somewhere as the implication by these words would be that re-promoting Gasly for the next season is out of the question.

    3. “If Nico can almost immediately pinpoint an improvement”
      Is it? Last I checked the jury is still out.

  3. I read this as a not-so-subtle hint that Stroll has no idea about car setup.

    1. @ricojazz

      I read this as a not-so-subtle hint that Stroll has no idea about car setup.

      Surely this is a more damning indictment of Perez’ set up abilities and feedback? After all, Perez has been in F1 for far longer than Stroll, and indeed has been Hulkenberg’s team mate previously. Doesn’t imply that he learned much, does it?

      1. I think you must read between the lines here. Maybe Racing Point’s technical director Andrew Green was looking for something nice to say about Hülkenberg. The statement that Nico gave great feedback doesn’t imply that the current Racing Point drivers are incapable of giving great feedback. Perhaps Stroll and Perez gave similar feedback about the suspension before Nico did.

        1. Or maybe it’s all a result from Hulkenberg having driven for Renault last year and heard how they got information from Daniel about the suspension set up from Red Bull……

  4. Interesting. Hulk should be a professional reviewer and assess every cars that not Mercedes to improve all other teams handling. Two practices and one race each.

    1. Make it part of the new plans: All teams get a few hours of the Hulk; teams in lower positions get more sessions than teams higher up in the championship.

      1. Reverse Hulk.

          1. After reading Newy’s book I have come to this conclusion

            The ‘Raked’ design has met it’s limitation. Where as Mercedes more level looking ride heights has been developed to handle the increased power and weight better – But Newy is so invested until the dramatic rule changes we won’t see a difference.
            Aldo the Redbulls were designed to sprint from the front and win. Now having to deal with traffic and have extra top speed is going to unbalance the cars purpose of 5 years ago…

    2. Being Devils advocate here, just because he gave feedback doesn’t necessarily mean that the changes have made the car faster.

      The changes may have made the car easier to drive, but it seems apparent from Red Bull (and I’d bet Mercedes) that easy to drive doesn’t necessarily give the fastest car.

      It seems that the absolute fastest cars are brutes to drive and need to be mastered by exceptional drivers rather than changing the car to make it less of a brute. Maybe that’s why Hulkenberg hasn’t reached the heights people would like – he pushes towards easy to drive/stability rather than “fast”.

      That doesn’t diminish the fact that he’s done a brilliant job for RP on Sunday. RP might be extremely well served by retaining him as a driver for the remainder of 2020 so the car is at its peak for junior and Seb next year.

      1. @dbradock Just because Red Bull have had a couple of years with difficult to drive cars doesn’t mean that every fast car they’ve ever produced was difficult to drive. Also, that Merc looks really well planted on the ground through the high-speed corners.

        It’s hard to say what difference Hulkenberg’s feedback seems to have made in the overall picture w.r.t the speed of the RP car, but having followed him for a long time, he doesn’t strike to me as the type of guy who’d go for “comfort” over speed. Some of Nico’s brightest moments in the sport have come in treacherous and difficult track conditions, and I bet he’d love the challenge of a difficult, but fast car.

        I have the feeling that Daniel and Nico have kinda become experts at giving feedback on the car, having to deal with last year’s Renault. Maybe not, but it’s kind of a funny thought lol.

        1. @neutronstar Yes and why is that Mercedes so planted? If you hear from Mercedes (Wolff, Shovlin and Cowell), this is exactly how Hamilton’s feedback is making Mercedes is so successful. Ricciardo is doing something similar at Renault. Development direction is something Red Bull is sorely lacking.

          1. @f1osaurus Of course, I’m not denying that.

      2. Haha, yes. At least he can give something for the team to develop, even if actually he said it getting worse after the race.

      3. @dbradock I would not necessarily agree that “It seems that the absolute fastest cars are brutes to drive”, or that it is necessarily that advantageous to have a car that is fast but also extremely difficult to drive. It might be a philosophy that produces a car that may be quick over a single lap, but quite a few designers would argue that it wouldn’t be such a strong car over a race distance.

        No driver is likely to be able to push the car that hard over a full race distance without eventually making a mistake or simply being fatigued to the point where they cannot push it that hard any more. Furthermore, a rather skittish car that is often sliding around runs the risk of increased tyre wear, and that does seem to be an issue with the current Red Bull car – note how Verstappen has tended to complain that “the tyres are dead” sooner than the Mercedes drivers have and, whilst he is often more competitive at the start of a stint, his lap times tend to start to worsen sooner than those of Mercedes, suggesting that he is suffering from increased tyre wear that prevents him from sustaining his initial pace.

        It’s why a number of designers have talked about wanting to maximise the usable performance of the car – so, whilst it might not have the highest absolute downforce figures, it is unlikely to suffer from, say, pitch instability issues which might cause unpredictable losses of downforce under braking, as one example.

        In that sense, the focus is on producing a car that is more consistent in its performance that maintains a more consistent handling balance – it allows the driver to push harder for longer, maximising their performance, and it gives the team a better chance of optimising the set up to extract more of the potential performance out of the car. There is a balance to be struck between what is the theoretical fastest option and what may allow the driver to extract the maximum performance out of the car for a longer period of time, which might then balance out to be a faster overall development direction.

  5. Jose Lopes da Silva
    13th October 2020, 9:55

    Hulkenberg will be retained as a driver for Racing Point for next year too. Every four races Lance will get sick so that Hulkenberg can feel the car for himself and check if it’s everything alright. He will do a great team work with Vettel.

  6. I hope Hulk ensures he is within an hour’s drive for all the upcoming circuits. Never know which team may need a replacement.

    And Aston Martin, seriously re-think! Stroll and Vettel vs Checo and Hulk. And I am not just saying it out of nostalgia.

    Not sure seeing the Aston Martin car spinning in every race is the PR it needs.

    1. @sumedh Spinning the car will ensure that advertising is seen at all angles though…

      1. Good one @MaxxSilver

  7. I sincerely hope Nico isn’t giving away Renault trade secrets.

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