Hulkenberg proud of 'faultless' second sub appearance for Aston Martin at Jeddah
Nico Hulkenberg was left ruing an untimely Safety Car after Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, but still found reason to leave Jeddah cheerful with his second straight substitute performance for Aston Martin.
Hulkenberg replaced Sebastian Vettel for the second race in a row, the four-time world champion having missed the first two races with a positive Covid-19 test. Aston Martin's reserve driver finished in P12 at Jeddah, one position ahead of team mate Lance Stroll and whilst he was proud of his performance, he was left pondering the unfortunate timing of the Safety Car on Lap 16.
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“It was OK, but unfortunately that Safety Car was exactly at the wrong time for my strategy and my race, so we really lost out there,” said Hulkenberg.
“It was unfortunate, but you cannot control these things. But personally, I am very, very pleased – I drove a clean race, faultless – but that’s all I could ask for given I am an old rusty guy. So, very happy and proud of myself.”
Hulkenberg previously admitted his return to F1 came as a surprise as he had been in bed when he had received the call up from Aston Martin ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix, and the 34-year-old admitted that he would look back on this opportunity with fondness.
“Well, that last 10 days where very unexpected, very eventful, busy, very intense, but I enjoyed them in hindsight. I think in a few years' time I will look back on this with good memories and with happy memories.”
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Mike Krack – Aston Martin’s new Team Principal – explained how Hulkenberg's strategy was hampered by the Safety Car, as he looked ahead to the Australian GP for which Vettel is expected to return.
“We decided to split our tyre strategy today – Lance [Stroll] started on mediums, Nico on hards – and the Safety Car that was deployed as a result of [Nicholas] Latifi’s Lap 16 accident at Turn 27 disadvantaged those who had started on hards. After that, Nico was always on the back foot, but he drove a solid race all the same and ended up 12th.”
“Obviously, we are disappointed not to have scored any points today, but from here we will travel back to Silverstone, where we will work hard to improve our car for the Australian Grand Prix in two weeks' time.”