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Hulkenberg calls his one-lap pace ‘unexpected’ as Haas jump up the order in Bahrain

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BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 23: Nico Hulkenberg of Germany driving the (27) Haas F1 VF-24 Ferrari

Nico Hulkenberg has labelled his one-lap pace during practice "a bit unexpected" after Haas Team Principal Ayao Komatsu was keen to play down expectations during their car launch. However, heading into the opening qualifying session of the year, the team look to have a car that could be capable of fighting for a Q3 spot.

Whether or not that proves to be the case, only time will tell but the team’s Thursday running certainly indicated they’ll be in the mix, and was quite the surprise considering they propped up the field in FP1, running some five seconds off the pace.

HIGHLIGHTS: Catch the FP2 action as Hamilton leads the way for Mercedes

“Probably a bit unexpected the pace over one lap,” laughed Nico Hulkenberg afterwards, the German responsible for the seventh fastest time of the representative FP2 session.

He is a known performer over one-lap and has a pole position in his locker, but he was keen to slightly dampen expectations heading into the weekend proper.

Hulkenberg cautions Haas not to get ‘over-excited’ by impressive practice pace

“[There’s] no reason to get over-excited and over-ambitious now, I think there were a few people that didn’t do low fuel runs and have more potential. So, it’s going to be tight and interesting to see.

“To be honest I expect a very tight field in qualifying, like it was last year, probably it will continue to be like that. So smallest mistake or a not clean lap can have a big impact. Not sure what it’s worth where we’ll slot in but we’ll put everything in that we have tomorrow and see what we get.”

READ MORE: 'It’s a shock' – Hamilton left surprised by Mercedes’ early pace in Bahrain

Kevin Magnussen couldn’t quite match his team mate’s exploits on the soft tyres, winding up 14th overall but finishing ahead of the RB of Yuki Tsunoda – a team that has been tipped for great things this season.

He sounded pretty positive about Haas’ chances, but it was clear his main focus was their race pace and whether they have got on top of the tyre degradation that let them down last season.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 29: Kevin Magnussen of Denmark and Haas F1 prepares to drive in the

Magnussen sounds optimistic heading into qualifying about his team's chances

“I think it’s been a pretty decent day, still of course big uncertainty on other people’s fuel loads and engine modes and stuff like that,” said the Dane. “Lots of focus on race runs and that’s actually been looking pretty decent, encouraged so far, yeah we’ll see how the rest of the weekend goes but pretty decent so far.

“I think on low fuel it’s a big learning curve because we still haven’t had any, this in FP2 was the only low fuel run we did so lots to learn there. But it seems more simple than the high fuel running, which I feel like we’ve gone in the right direction in terms of tyre wear at least. Curious to know the real pace of the car in race conditions, but certainly tyre degradation is better.”

READ MORE: ‘Positive’ Piastri believes McLaren are in the mix while Norris rues ‘messy’ practice day

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