Hulkenberg left ruing soft tyre choice for race restart
The race was red flagged after an incident between Pastor Maldonado and Max Chilton at Tabac corner. Hulkenberg and his Sauber team made the decision to put him on the yellow-banded tyre for the final sprint to the flag but they have been left ruing the decision after dropping out of the points in the closing laps.
Speaking in a post-race statement, Hulkenberg said “Unlike most of the other drivers, I started on soft tyres at the re-start, which was ok in the beginning. But, after another Safety Car, the tyres never came back to life again. The rears especially degraded a lot.”
He revealed that after the race, his tyre was down to the belt: “When I got out of the car I could see the steel belt, so it’s no wonder the pace wasn’t good enough anymore. It’s a shame, as that point would have been ours.”
The German didn’t expect too much from the race after a disappointing qualifying session, but was still downbeat after losing out on the final point. “We couldn’t expect any miracles today, and yesterday we weren’t in the top ten either. Today we just lacked speed throughout the race.”
Team-mate Esteban Gutierrez was the last of the midfield runners to finish, coming home in 13th place. Reflecting on the race, he was pleased to cross the line without any damage to the car. “It was very challenging to bring the car back home without any scratches or a crash. The first Safety Car compromised our strategy and in the end we just had to make the best out of that situation. We couldn’t expect to score points, but I did my best to use every opportunity I had to gain positions.”
Looking at what the team need to focus on, Gutierrez revealed that he struggled for straight line speed. “But one of the points where we have to improve is the top speed in order to be able to fight for positions.” Looking at his own driving, the Mexican felt cited improving his pace in changeable conditions as the main focus for the upcoming races, saying “On the other hand, I need to work so I can cope better with changing conditions in qualifying.”
Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn was left “disappointed” after a difficult race weekend, but admitted both her drivers “drove well” and were let down by the car.
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic
Jack Leslie is a freelance motorsport journalist. He has been part of the Richland F1 team since the very start and made his debut in the F1 paddock for the website at the 2014 Austrian Grand Prix. Jack also writes for Car Throttle and RumbleStripNews, as well as running a popular blog.