Nico Hulkenberg, Haas, Circuit de Catalunya, 2023

“Realistic” Hulkenberg doubts he’ll repeat surprise third place in qualifying

2023 Spanish Grand Prix

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Nico Hulkenberg doesn’t expect he’ll be able to qualify as high as he finished practice today, after setting the third-fastest time on Friday.

Haas have had a driver on the second row of the grid this year – Kevin Magnussen qualified fourth in Miami – but Hulkenberg suspects there are several cars which will prove too competitive for them on Saturday.

“I guess other people kind of under-performed or under-delivered,” Hulkenberg told media including RaceFans after qualifying. “There’s a lot of top cars that I think will find something overnight or pick it up. I think we’ve got to stay cool and realistic.

“For me it’s important to have a good feeling in the car, a good rhythm and I managed to find that today, which is the most important thing for me and for a driver. Obviously I’m hoping to have a similarly good day tomorrow just to squeeze out what we have.”

The entire field was covered by one-and-a-half seconds at the end of practice. Hulkenberg predicted an extremely close fight to reach the final stage of qualifying.

“Tomorrow is going to be tight again,” he said. “The Q3 fight, if you see in the midfield there’s still four or five teams and we’re all battling for the same piece of Tarmac. So it’s going to be a tough, tight fight again.”

Hulkenberg said the car felt “decent” around the Circuit de Catalunya, “especially that lap.”

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“New softs give you a lot of grip over one lap. Particularly [in] P2 I think we’ve picked up some performance. In P1 it wasn’t quite there yet. So I’m satisfied how it went in P2 and I hope we can keep it up for the next two days.”

Both Haas drivers were eliminated in Q1 at the last race in Monaco. Hulkenberg said the Spanish track suits their VF-23 better.

“It’s a very different circuit. You can’t compare for a second to Monaco. It’s a completely different cup of tea, different tyres, everything’s different. When you drive out in P1 it’s just a whole different world.”

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2023 Spanish 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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One comment on ““Realistic” Hulkenberg doubts he’ll repeat surprise third place in qualifying”

  1. He is doing a good job. Quite surprised, expected to find him rusty.

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