Nico Hulkenberg, Haas, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2023

Poor Canadian GP pace “tough to take” after shock second in qualifying – Hulkenberg

2023 Canadian Grand Prix

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Nico Hulkenberg urged Haas to find a fix for its tyre degradation woes after finishing a lapped 15th in Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix.

The Haas driver originally qualified second, but his move down the order began before the race start as he was handed a three-place penalty for failing to slow down to the required pace when qualifying was red-flagged.

He lost two further places in the first ten laps, but the cars ahead streaked away while Hulkenberg had four queued behind him so closely that only 1.72 seconds covered the quintet.

He then made his first pit stop, falling to 15th, in what proved a disastrously ill-timed move. The Safety Car was deployed the lap afterwards, allowing several of his rivals to pit and cement their positions ahead of him. That included five drivers who were ahead of him beforehand plus three which were running the Haas prior to his stop.

Hulkenberg had to pit again before the halfway point of the 70-lap race, consigning the driver who had starred in qualifying to a poor result.

“I lost a whole bunch of places,” he said of his first pit stop. “The timing wasn’t great.”

Having benefited from the red-flagging of qualifying on Saturday, Hulkenberg admitted the Safety Car deployment had a “very different” on his race, but was not the only factor which worked against him on Sunday.

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“We were struggling for pace. I don’t know [if it was] tyre management or tyre deg, maybe not so much here, but it was more pace that I felt we were missing compared to some of our main competitors.”

Following his second stop, Hulkenberg made up three places in three laps as others headed to the pit lane for a second time. He picked up two more positions when team mate Kevin Magnussen clashed with AlphaTauri’s Nyck de Vries, but after that it was a repeat of his first stint as he lacked pace compared to everyone else.

Alpine’s Pierre Gasly and AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda also passed him. “If you’re just being bombarded and you know you’re hanging on by your teeth, it’s not that fun,” said Hulkenberg.

“It’s tough to take, especially during the moment. But I think we have to think ahead longer term and think of a long-term solution for this.

“There’s nothing really that we can do with set-up to fix this. I think it’s bigger issues. So we’re very much aware of it, working on it. But I think it’s a longer-term strategy that we need to pursue to get really much better at it.”

Hulkenberg’s pace deficit cost him four places on-track, while he slipped back eight and four places respectively on his two visits to the pits. The driver who finished the race three places ahead of him was almost half a minute up the road.

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He ranked only 19th among the fastest lap times of the day, quicker only than Logan Sargeant who retired on lap seven. Hulkenberg’s potential fastest lap based on sector times was still only the 17th best in the field. The average of his 10 fastest laps was the slowest of all.

The lack of pace was not quite as severe on the team’s other car. When Magnussen made his second pit stop he emerged 68s behind Hulkenberg. Over the remaining 16 laps brought that gap down by 15s.

Hulkenberg says he ‘hopes not’ to have a repeat of these struggles when F1 is back in action next month at the Red Bull Ring, but with six points (all scored in one weekend) from eight races his comeback season is so far proving to be his worst since his rookie campaign in 2010.

He offered no objection to the grid penalty which cost him what would have been his first front row start since that season. “Obviously it was a pity,” he said. “But I broke the law there, it’s justified, I totally accept it and took it.

“It wouldn’t have made a difference to the ending of the race, I believe. But obviously still not great that I made that error.”

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2023 Canadian Grand Prix

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...
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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6 comments on “Poor Canadian GP pace “tough to take” after shock second in qualifying – Hulkenberg”

  1. I honestly believe Haas don’t know how to develop a car. Every year they start one way and never improve on it. They can design a competitive one but never seem to be able to get around problems.

    1. “Sometimes upgrades are overrated”
      “F1 car upgrades are a little bit overrated,”
      “The biggest improvement would be the set-up at the moment”
      “Haas went wrong with upgrade strategy in 2022”

      “back to being a normal team again” “Upgrades are coming all over the season,” “We’ve got a good plan in place.”
      –Günther Steiner.

  2. All they need is a couple of days of tyre testing while being allowed to dial in their setup.

    Worked for their main supplier, apparently.

  3. On the bright side, Steiner is making more money this year.

  4. Magnussen stopped on lap 54 something for fresh mediums, while Hulk had stopped for hards on lap 32/33, I think. It’s not surprising for the former to be a second a lap faster in that scenario.

  5. Hulk has always gravitated to the back. Just what he does best.

Comments are closed.