Nico Hulkenberg was an F1 driver turned software engineer at the Chinese Grand Prix, with the German forced to try and reboot his Renault R.S.19 on track after a suspected issue with the car’s MGU-K.
As the video above shows, Hulkenberg was circulating in 15th place following his first pit stop when he reported a loss of power to his engineer on Lap 16. After several attempts to carry out the instructions coming in from the Renault pit wall to try and fix the problem - whilst driving flat-out no less! - Hulkenberg was, however, eventually forced to retire the car a lap later.
It comes off the back of series of MGU-K-related retirements for Renault-powered cars in 2019. And while Renault’s re-designed unit was fitted to all four cars using the Renault power unit ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix – the two works R.S.19s of Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo, plus the two McLarens of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz, who’d had his fitted for Bahrain – it’s believed that a software issue on Hulkenberg’s car, rather than a hardware one, may have caused the failure in Shanghai.
“We’re looking into the issue,” said Hulkenberg after the race. “It’s clearly a very disappointing race for us today. It was a difficult start to the race, I lost a position and it was tough following cars ahead. We pitted and came out in some traffic, but then I felt a loss of power. We tried our best to fix it out there as it looked like a software issue, but it wasn’t possible and we had to park up.”
Hulkenberg’s second retirement in as many races means that he sits in 10th place in the drivers’ standings, although Renault climbed from seventh to fourth in the constructors’ standings in China thanks to Daniel Ricciardo’s strong drive to seventh place in the remaining R.S.19.