Renault Sport Formula 1 Team driver Nico Hulkenberg says it was “a pity we couldn’t show the speed and potential of the [Renault] car” in last weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix, though is hoping this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix will provide a better race for the team.
Hulkenberg started eighth in the race but came home in sixteenth – behind even long-suffering teammate Jolyon Palmer – following a poor start and aggressive strategy which led to an unplanned second stop.
The Malaysian Grand Prix is one of the hottest on the calendar, and with such a hot track temperature comes increased tyre degradation. Whilst degradation affected teams up and down the grid on Sunday, Cyril Abiteboul, the team’s Managing Director, claimed it particularly affected Hulkenberg.
“After a very poor first lap from both our cars, we were on the back foot and stayed there until the end of the race. We tried to be a bit more aggressive with Nico’s strategy. We called him in early however that didn’t work in our favour as we remained in traffic after the stop.
“His attempts to gain position increased the tyre degradation and meant we were forced to do a second pit stop for safety reasons.“
This is a sentiment echoed by the German driver who admitted that whilst a poor start didn’t help, the race never really came to the team.
“It was a very a disappointing Sunday.
“It began with a start that wasn’t fantastic, we lost a few positions in turn one but from then on we were on the back foot for the rest of the race. There were difficult situations, we got stuck in traffic and had to pit twice.
“I took some big risks to try and get ahead, it’s a pity we couldn’t show the speed and the potential of the car. We’ll look to have a better race next Sunday.”
Sunday’s non-points-finish means that whilst Hulkenberg retains his tenth position in the Driver’s Championship, he has just a one point lead over Williams Martini Racing’s Felipe Massa.