Hulkenberg owns up to 'driver error' in FP2 crash

Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Haas F1 Team. 27.08.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 14, Dutch Grand Prix, Zandvoort, Netherlands, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images
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Nico Hulkenberg ended up spinning off the track at Yas Marina midway through second practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and afterwards had to put his hands up and take the blame for the accident.

The session had already been red flagged for a more violent impact into the barriers for Ferrari's Carlos Sainz which had resulted in a long stoppage while inspections were carried out on the barriers.

When cars were finally allowed back on track with 25 minutes remaining on the clock, Hulkenberg and his Haas team mate Kevin Magnussen were right at the front of the queue on pit lane to get back out.

But as Hulkenberg got up to speed into the first corner to start his first flying lap, he ended up taking too much kerb on exit and spun off, damaging the rear of his car as he collected an advertising hoarding along the way.

The final impact with the barriers was not as bad as the one Sainz suffered half an hour before, but it did mean that Hulkenberg's evening session was over prematurely with just seven laps in the books.

“It was a mistake on my side," the German told the media afterward once he got back to the paddock. ""Driver error. I just wanted a bit too much, too soon.

"I lost the car, it wasn’t a big impact, but it ended my session, so it’s been a very short day in general with only one lap on the board, as I didn’t drive FP1 either."

Hulkenberg's seat had been taken by young driver Oliver Bearman in accordance with Formula 1 rules about developing future talent.

“In FP1 we went through our test program and Oliver did a good job like he did in Mexico, it was a very solid, very stable drive," noted Haas F1 Team principal Guenther Steiner.

Nico Hulkenberg (GER), Haas F1 Team
24.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 23, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Practice Day.
-, EMail: © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images

But it's nonetheless unfortunate for Hulkenberg who himself lacks up-to-date experience at Yas Marina Circuit which has undergone some modifications since he was last racing full time in F1.

Losing so much time on Friday is particularly unfortunate even through there is still one further final practice session to go on Saturday.

"FP3 is in the daytime with much hotter track temperatures, so it’s not really representative and not great in terms of learning for the car," Hulkenberg explained. "But it will be useful for me to feel comfortable in the car.”

Magnussen meanwhile did take part in FP1 and had an incident-free second practice as well, although with the red flags from Hulkenberg and Sainz' accidents he still only completed 18 laps in FP2.

"It’s hard to tell where we truly stack up until tomorrow," he pointed out after finishing the day in P17. "We didn’t get a lap on the soft tyre - prior to the red flag I was P4, so not too bad.

Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas VF-23.
24.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 23, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Practice Day.
-, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

"We chose to go out for a longer run on the medium compound whereas others went out on a short run on softs, so at least we got more laps than others on the mediums.”

"FP2 was a little bit of a disrupted session with two red flags, one caused by us with Nico being a bit too optimistic going into Turn 1 on new soft tyres," acknowledged Steiner.

"This meant Kevin couldn’t put a lap in on his new softs and therefore we chose to put him on a long run. There’s still a lot to do for tomorrow before we can be ready for the race.

"As usual, over one lap I don’t think we’re too far off, but on the long runs, we’ll struggle.”

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