Nico Hülkenberg admitted the gamble to sit out the second segment of Qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix did not pay off as they had hoped, with the strategy calls they made seeing them miss out on points with a twelfth-place finish.
Both Hülkenberg and his Renault Sport Formula One Team team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr. both remained in the garage throughout Q2 knowing they would be guaranteed to qualify eleventh and twelfth on the grid thanks to the grid penalties to Pierre Gasly, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, which in turn would give them a free choice of tyre to start the race on.
However, the pace of the R.S.18 was not as strong as hoped, and despite running as high as seventh before his pit stop to switch from the Soft compound to the Ultrasoft, he re-joined outside the top ten, but was unable to maintain his pace and fell behind Romain Grosjean in the closing laps to end up down in twelfth.
“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get the maximum from the strategy today,” said Hülkenberg, who fell behind Kevin Magnussen and into eighth place in the Drivers’ Championship thanks to the Dane’s eighth place finish. “We had a clean race without any incidents and it was positive to be running in P7 for so many laps, but we weren’t able to make the places back after the pit stop.
“We gave it our best shot and converted the alternative strategy pretty well, but we couldn’t make it pay off in the end.”