Formula 1

Nico Hülkenberg: “We gave it everything out there, but points were out of reach”

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Credit: Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team

After once again stepping into the seat in place of Sebastian Vettel, Nico Hülkenberg finished the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in twelfth place, but he rued the timing of the safety car that all but ended his chances of a top ten finish.

Vettel remained absent at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit after failing to show a negative COVID-19 test following his positive tests prior to the Bahrain Grand Prix, and Hülkenberg once again stepped into the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team in place of his countryman.

Having started down in seventeenth, Hülkenberg was one of three drivers to start on the hard Pirelli tyre compound, and when the safety car came out, he did not pit as it would have been too early for him to switch to the mediums to be able to reach the end without stopping again.

This meant he was on the back foot at the restart as he was forced to defend from drivers who had started on the medium compound and switched to the hard compound, and ultimately, he was left down outside the points in twelfth at the chequered flag despite staying out of trouble in a car he has little experience in.

“It was a demanding race, but I am happy with my performance considering my limited experience with the car,” said Hülkenberg.  “We put together a clean race, but unfortunately the events and opportunities did not really go our way.

“For example, the first Safety Car period was unhelpful because we were running a longer first stint on the Hard tyre – so that compromised our race. We gave it everything out there, but points were out of reach.

“I am happy to have helped the team by standing in again and I will remain on standby should I be needed again.”

“We will keep working hard to find more performance” – Lance Stroll

Hülkenberg at least finished ahead of team-mate Lance Stroll, with the Canadian losing time after contact with Williams Racing’s Alexander Albon late in the day that left him with damage.

Stroll had gambled on staying out on older tyres when the Virtual Safety Car was deployed late in the race, but the gamble did not pay off as he was unable to defend from those who did pit, and ultimately, he ended the day thirteenth after being hit by Albon.

“We did our best to try to hold on for a points finish after the late Virtual Safety Car period, but unfortunately two cars behind us were on a faster and fresher tyre compound, so there was not much we could do,” said Stroll.

“It was a shame that we ended the final laps with some damage after a collision with Alex [Albon]. I felt I had left him space when he made his dive, but I have not watched the replays yet.

“There is still a long season ahead of us, so we will keep working hard to find more performance in the car for the coming races.”

Lance Stroll finished thirteenth after contact with Alexander Albon late in the day – Credit: Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team
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Thirty-something motorsport fanatic, covering Formula 1, Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula 3. Feel free to give him a follow on Twitter at @Paul11MSport.
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