Hulkenberg’s Renault was stuck in 'safe mode' at Hungaroring
“It’s a good time for a break,” said Nico Hulkenberg after finishing 12th in Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix. This time around, Hulkenberg’s lack of points was down to his recalcitrant Renault R.S.19, its engine down on power thanks to being stuck in ‘safe mode’.
It’s not the first time Hulkenberg has encountered such a power unit mapping problem in 2019, his car going into a similar state - designed to protect the engine in the event of an issue - during qualifying in Bahrain, consigning him to 17th on the grid. Back then, the German said, “We need to understand and fix these issues so they don’t happen again,” but the problem reared its head again in Budapest.
Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul expanded on the issue, and said that the lack of available power made Renault’s plan to run Hulkenberg on medium tyres for half the race, before switching to softs, effectively redundant.
“With Nico we were targeting points, but with an engine having to run in safe mode, and a very modest advantage over the soft tyre starters, we could not make our strategy really work,” he explained.
As a result, Hulkenberg couldn’t capitalise on his P11 starting spot.
“We struggled with the car, with an engine control issue from the beginning of the race, which meant I lost, consistently, three-tenths a lap,” he added.
“That made things tricky and we just didn’t have the pace to progress into the points. It’s a good time for a break. As a team we will regroup, think a few things over because we need to up our game in the second part of the season.”
Hungary capped off a run of disappointing races for Hulkenberg, who last scored a point at Silverstone, finishing 13th in Austria and crashing out of his home race at Hockenheim – where a potential first podium was within sight. He now sits 14th in the drivers’ standings, one point ahead of Toro Rosso’s Alex Albon.