Hulkenberg reverses course with ‘clean', well executed qualifying


Haas' Nico Hulkenberg delivered in Saturday’s Chinese GP qualifying a performance that was in stark contrast to his disappointing result earlier in the day in F1’s Sprint event.

Tyre degradation came back to haunt the German driver in the 30-minute mad dash, leaving him a lowly P19 in the running order at the end of the 19-lap race which teammate Kevin Magnussen concluded tenth.

However, revisiting the settings of Haas VF-24 ahead of qualifying instilled a welcomed boost of speed that Hulkenberg put to good use, his pace carrying him into the top-ten shootout and to P9 at the end of the session.

“The Sprint was a bit mixed,” commented Haas team boss Ayao Komatsu. “Kevin had a half-decent race. In terms of speed – we’re missing, but with tire degradation we weren’t too bad.

“With Nico it was another story. We have a pretty decent idea as a team why Nico’s degradation was so much worse than Kevin, but also why Kevin’s pace wasn’t great.

“With this year’s regulations we can change the car set-up between Sprint and qualifying, so we made some adjustments.”

Hulkenberg reckoned that a “wrong turn” on the set-up had led his Haas astray. But subsequent adjustments went a long way towards boosting his car’s performance.

“We dropped down the field quite dramatically in the Sprint – there was nothing obvious, no damage on the car. In the pack, right after the start, I think we ruined our tires over the first few laps,” he explained.


“We were just driving in the dirty air of many cars – so we paid a big price for that. After that I hit degradation and just went backwards.

“Maybe we did a wrong turn on the set-up after yesterday going from FP1 into Sprint quali. We intended to make the car better, but it reacted in a strange and different way to what we expected in the Sprint.

“Then I was very happy with quali, it was very clean, not sure I could have asked for more in terms of execution and my laps.

“We remedied things from the Sprint, things were more in-line with what we expected – so I’m happy. I expect a tough race tomorrow, I think it will be a stretch for us, but I look forward to it.”

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