Nico Hulkenberg says high tyre degradation and poor balance was responsible for his lacklustre showing in the Austrian Grand Prix.
Hulkenberg had qualified on the front row of the grid in Red Bull Ring - and was set for a strong haul of points, given Force India’s upturn in performance since the Spanish Grand Prix.
But the German made a poor getaway and struggled for performance thereafter, dropping well outside the top 10. Due to heavy graining on the tyres, he was forced to make three pitstops - as supposed to a maximum of two for his rivals.
Speaking after the race, the 28-year-old says Force India must work on understanding the issues that plagued its Spielberg campaign.
“I’m pretty disappointed and gutted, to be honest,’’ he 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 tyres were graining.” “
“That became the story of my race because the balance of the car wasn’t allowing me to manage the tyres and I was suffering with so much graining.”
“With a new set I could manage just three of four laps before they fell away.”
Hulkenberg eventually had to retire with a brake issue, bringing an abrupt end to what was a difficult race for the 2015 Le Mans winner.
“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,’’ he explained. “We have to digest and understand what happened today and then look forward to Silverstone.”
Teammate Sergio Perez was on course to score points after a fine recovery drive from 16th on the grid, only to suffer a brake failure on the final lap.
“The race was going really well and I thought we had the points in our pocket. I was pushing hard to stay close to Grosjean because I knew he had a five seconds time penalty. Then, on the final lap, going into turn three, I had no brakes and went straight on,’’ he said.
by Rachit Thukral