Nico Hulkenberg and Marcus Ericsson were early casualties from the Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrom, with both drivers retiring at turn two on the opening lap of the race.
Sahara Force India driver Hulkenberg spun after suffering a rear lock-up on cold tyres, with a number of drivers taking avoiding action as a result, but Sauber F1 Team driver Ericsson was unable to avoid a collision, ending both drivers’ races.
“I didn’t have the best of starts, but then I was able to pick the ideal line on the approach to turn two,” said Hulkenberg. “Unfortunately, I locked the rears going into turn two and, when that happens, you just end up in a spin.
“I hoped the whole field would get past without hitting me but unfortunately Ericsson got stuck with me and I couldn’t move away. The first lap is always a unique situation: I didn’t brake any later, but with cold tyres it’s really tricky and once the tyres locked there was nothing I could do to save it.
“It’s always a pity to go out at the start and it’s really frustrating because our pace seemed really good this weekend. I just want to move on and start thinking about the next race.”
Ericsson was left frustrated with his early retirement after gambling on an alternative tyre strategy, but felt he had nowhere to go to avoid Hulkenberg, with the Sauber driver feeling there was an opportunity to score points in Russia.
“A difficult weekend for me, but I was still optimistic for the race,” reflected Ericsson. “As I started from the back of the field, we chose an alternative strategy starting on soft tyres.
“The start was good, as I was able to overtake a few cars going down to turn two. Then I suddenly saw Nico facing the wrong way. I had nowhere to go and went into him. This is very disappointing as the car was quite competitive here.
“[It’s] a missed opportunity, which is frustrating for me. Now I will recharge and try it again during the next race weekend.”