Hülkenberg on F1 Singapore GP missed opportunity: “I was way ahead of Kevin, and he managed 10th”

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Photo credits: Haas F1 Team

Having started Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix with both cars inside the top ten, Haas F1 Team only left the Marina Bay Street Circuit with a single point. This could have been the weekend which saw the American-owned team make gains in the F1 Constructors’ Championship and close in on 7th placed Williams – but it wasn’t to be. Nico Hülkenberg, having been ahead of his teammate on track during the race, was not the Haas driver to bring the point to the team and the German racer told media post-race in Singapore that “it could have been points there because I was way ahead of Kevin, and he managed 10th so we need to review that.”

Haas was always going to have a battle on their hands to stay in the points but once both of the team’s drivers lost places as the lights went out the task became that much harder. Not for the first time in 2023, the VF-23 struggled to get its Pirelli tyres working on race day so seeing both cars swallowed up by the pack was not much of a surprise.

What was a surprise, was the damage the double stack caused to Nico Hülkenberg’s race. After pitting behind the Safety Car the double stack meant that Hülkenberg was held up. The German racer’s comments post-race showed a maturity and awareness that it could not have been helped.

“Long race once again here, lots invested, lots of work but no pay out unfortunately at the end. Started off with the first Safety Car, I was the trailing car, double stop so lost a lot of position and ground there, which was not ideal. Unfortunate but not a lot we can do about that,” explained Hülkenberg.

However, there was an area which Haas’ German driver felt does need analysis and that was the decision not to pit under the VSC. As has happened on numerous occasions this season, Haas’ tyre wear proved to be Hülkenberg’s downfall in the latter stages and after running a one-stop race he would come home P13. Hulkenberg’s imagery used to capture his on track struggles perfectly summed up the situation.

“Then I think we managed a one-stop but at the end I was just a falling fruit. I think we missed an opportunity pitting in that final VSC, it could have been points there because I was way ahead of Kevin and he managed 10th so we need to review that.” claimed Hülkenberg.

“That’s the brutal reality of the midfield you know. Drove a really good race today but 13th is like deep down, yeah, a lot of energy invested and sweat but unfortunately no payout. Unfortunately, I feel like we missed an opportunity at the end during VSC – think we should have pitted and then we would have scored points for sure. But yeah it wasn’t an easy call. It wasn’t very obvious but we need to go through that and analyse it. At least Kevin got one point and our main competitor didn’t score so that’s the best news for today,” said Haas’ top point scorer of the season.

Hülkenberg was also aware that he had played his part on track and spoke with a calmness of a man who knows his future with the team is already secured: “Bit of a shame so a bit disappointed but I drove a good race so nothing personally I can be unhappy about today.”

Next up is Suzuka and with it a forecast of a wet weekend ahead. Hülkenberg revealed in Haas’ race weekend preview what he is expecting from his latest trip to Japan and the challenge in front of the team: “It flows, it has elevation changes, it’s physically a challenge on the body – it has everything. 130R, Degners, and Spoon are all unbelievable corners to drive through. It’s a racers circuit and no matter the conditions, and we know they can get pretty extreme, it’s usually a wild ride.”

The battle for P7 in the Constructors’ Championship certainly looks to be a wild ride and the latest chapter is just days away. This tussle will surely have many more twists to come but a point gained is a point gained and that was not lost on Haas Team Principal Guenther Steiner Guenther Steiner: “After qualifying P6 and P9 yesterday, we brought a point home which, at the moment for us, is worth a lot and I think it’s the best we can do with what we’ve got.”

Haas will be hoping the best is yet to come as they aim to chase down Williams’ 9-point lead in the standings. The Grove based team’s talismanic driver, Alex Albon, is Williams’ sole point scorer so far this season while Haas has a pair of drivers who have each contributed to their team’s tally. There could still be success to come this season for Haas but with only seven race weekends remaining time is not on their side.