Hülkenberg confident “good straight-line speed” would have held off Tsunoda without undercut in F1 Imola GP

Photo Credit: Haas F1 Team
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Nico Hülkenberg began Sunday’s race in a very good 10th position for Haas, ending the first lap in 8th position after a great start that saw him passing both RBs who were ahead of him on the grid.

He finished just short of the points in 11th with his teammate Magnussen just behind him in 12th. The 36-year-old was undercut lost out to Tsunoda, Perez and Stroll in the end.

Hülkenberg was forced into an early stop on lap 14, resulting in him losing track position to Tsunoda and re-joining the race in 15th as RB F1 nailed the undercut. Stopping much earlier than the team had originally planned made for a longer and tougher second stint for the German.

Hülkenberg is confident he could have maintained his position against Tsunoda if he had stayed ahead though the pit sequence as the Haas was extremely quick on the straights.

“We were kind of forced to stop early, we lost one track position to Yuki, but we stopped way earlier than what we would have liked to, and that made the final stint quite long and tricky at the end.

“You need a big delta here to overtake, and I think this weekend we had a good straight-line speed and that probably would have kept us ahead.”

The German showed at the weekend that the American team have great straight-line speed and had the potential to stay ahead of their opponents. But didn’t quite have the raw pace to try to fight back against Tsunoda.

The Haas driver is unsure if a different strategy would have proven beneficial to the him or whether starting on a hard tyre would have hurt his start considering he got both RB cars.

“It’s always difficult to say on the hard, like this I had a good start, immediately got both Racing Bulls.

“With the hard maybe I would have had a worse start, and if I had lost the position […] well, you never know, we’ll have to review it.

“With the hard, maybe I would have had a worse start.”

Despite Hülkenberg’s brilliant launch, the early pit stop and undercut allowed Tsunoda to maintain a fairly steady 4 to 5 second gap on him on the hard stint, aside from when they caught the traffic of Guanyu and Sargeant.

Hülkenberg knew he did not stand a chance in holding off the Red Bull of Perez behind him, due to the difference in their pace. He also lost out to Stroll in the second half of the race as the Aston Martin driver had fresher tyres.

The 36-year-old saw many blue flags over the course of the race as the top 5 cars came through, but he is hopeful that after reviewing with the team, they can be back in the fight for points this weekend in Monaco. 

“I think Yuki was always 4-5 seconds in front of me, so that was the gap to him.

“Obviously we knew the Red Bull coming through yesterday, there was no holding the Red Bull behind pace-wise, and Lance was also rapid, good pace at the end. .

“Yeah, a lot of blue flags, and it was quite an interrupted second stint.”