(L to R): Nico Hulkenberg, Haas; Guanyu Zhou, Alfa Romeo; Baku City Circuit, 2023

Hulkenberg to start from pits as Haas change set-up after tyre graining trouble

2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Nico Hulkenberg will start the Azerbaijan Grand Prix from the pit lane after Haas took his car out of parc ferme to make set-up changes.

He finished yesterday’s sprint race 15th, having started 12th, and suffered from severe graining on his tyres.

“After the Safety Car, three or four laps and then my tyres were just completely shot,” he said yesterday. “I had not much to work with, to fight with. I was just dropping like a stone and I need to look at it, understand it, analyse it. It’s a bit of a question mark at the moment.”

The FIA confirmed Haas changed the set-up of the suspension on Hulkenberg’s VF-23. He indicated yesterday the team might have to make changes to his car ahead of the grand prix.

“[The tyres] grained so it’s not just no traction, it’s just no grip anywhere. And on a track like here, that’s obviously pretty sketchy and tricky and you feel very exposed.

“So some homework to do with the limited options now looking into tomorrow. We need to see what we want to do.”

The Haas driver was due to start today’s grand prix from 16th place after Alpine also decided to start Esteban Ocon from the pit lane.

Haas’ principal aerodynamicist Juan Molina said the team had identified the reason for the clear difference in performance between Hulkenberg’s car and that of team mate Kevin Magnussen in yesterday’s race.

“Yesterday there was an obvious difference,” he told media including RaceFans in Baku today. “So the guys have looked at the data and understood where it came from.

“But again, having not much practice, you’re going into the weekend already quite compromised if you don’t get everything right in P1. At least for Kevin, he had a very difficult P1, he’s quite happy with the car. In previous races he took a bit more time but now he’s getting there with the car so should be better for the rest of the season.”

Hulkenberg is competing at Baku for the first time since 2019 this year. Molina said he is still improving his tyre management after returning to full-time competition in F1.

“At the end of the day it’s how you set up the car, so again, we are learning,” he said. “Nico has been doing not too bad in the previous races also with managing the tyres. But it’s a learning process, we need to give him a bit more time.”

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2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Author information

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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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