It was a moment that left onlookers with their hearts in their mouths – but Nico Hulkenberg has played down his spectacular opening lap barrel roll in Abu Dhabi as ‘nothing really dramatic’...
The Renault driver was sent on his collision course with the barriers after tangling with Haas’s Romain Grosjean on the opening lap of the race at Yas Marina, as the duo fought over seventh place.
Hulkenberg was taken to the medical centre for checks after the smash, but was soon back in the paddock and ruing a disappointing end to the season.
“I’m totally fine physically, just disappointed and gutted to be out of the race so early and to finish the season like this,” said the German.
“My head was spinning around, as was the car, which is never a good sign – something had clearly gone wrong! It looked spectacular, but it was not a hard crash. There was no heavy G [force] impact, so no problem from that point of view.
“It’s obviously not what I was looking for. It’s such a long build up and obviously everyone is putting in the hard work over the weekend, and then to be out on lap 1 like this, with a lot of damage on the car as well, feels bad.
"It’s very disappointing but I think we have to put it down as a racing incident. I was racing Romain into Turn 8 and we both locked up. I went really wide, he went even wider, so I thought he ran off the track and I had Turn 9 to myself. That’s why I went for the apex but obviously he was still there and you know, the wheels make contact and the rest we’ve seen. The flips looked spectacular but nothing really dramatic.”