Nico Hülkenberg believes that another MGU-K problem halted his race at the Chinese Grand Prix, putting an end to the German and the Renault F1 Team‘s pre-race optimism.
Hülkenberg retired on lap 16 of 56 at the Shanghai International Circuit with another Renault power unit related failure, following widespread component changes after the double failure that left the team with no points at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Carlos Sainz Jr. also suffered an MGU-K failure at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix for Renault customer McLaren F1 Team, forcing the French marque to develop an updated version.
Hülkenberg explained that he felt a “loss of power” after his pitstop on lap 11.
“It’s clearly a very disappointing race for us today,” said Hülkenberg.
“It was a difficult start to the race, I lost a position and it was tough following cars ahead. We pitted and came out in some traffic, but then I felt a loss of power.
“We tried our best to fix it out there as it looked like a software issue, but it wasn’t possible and we had to park up
“We’re looking into the issue, but it looks like an MGU-K related problem.”
Team boss Cyril Abiteboul blamed the late sign-off on the R.S.19 and time pressure as the main reason behind Renault’s shaky start to the 2019 Formula 1 season in terms of reliability.
Hülkenberg had qualified a promising eighth, directly behind team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, and had expressed his happiness in the race pace shown by Renault in Free Practice.
Renault had hoped to be closer to Red Bull Racing in the Constructors’ Championship, but currently stands 40 points behind its rival after just three races.
Hülkenberg said that the team will analyse the failure and its overall performance in Shanghai, in the hope of finding form and consistency at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.
He added: “We have things to work on ahead of the next race, but we will look at everything in detail and come back stronger.”