By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
Nico Hulkenberg saw one of the best qualifying efforts of his career turn into a rough day at the office in the Austrian Grand Prix.
The Sahara Force India driver delighted on Saturday in qualifying and started the race in second alongside polesitter Lewis Hamilton. However, Hulkenberg had a slow start off the line and quickly faded to fourth in the opening laps, before strategy and pace pushed him further down the running order and eventually retiring in the closing laps of the race.
“I’m pretty disappointed and gutted, to be honest,” Hulkenberg said. “It was a really tough race and nothing really worked out for us.
“The start wasn’t great and I dropped a couple of positions on lap one, but the opening stint was very difficult because the car was sliding around and the tires were graining. That became the story of my race because the balance of the car wasn’t allowing me to manage the tires and I was suffering with so much graining. With a new set I could manage just three of four laps before they fell away.
The German was attempting a four stop tire strategy and was running on a set of used supersofts when he began to feel something was amiss with his VJM09.
“Towards the end of the race I had some vibrations with the car and the team saw that I was critical on brake wear, which is why we retired the car in the end,” Hulkenberg added. “We have to digest and understand what happened today and then look forward to Silverstone.”
Brake issues were a common theme in the Sahara Force India camp, with Hulkenberg’s teammate Sergio Perez crashing on the final lap at the Red Bull Ring with an apparent brake failure.