Hulkenberg wants Haas to improve Sunday pace and tyre degradation after tough Spanish GP

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Photo credit: MoneyGram Haas F1 Team

Nico Hulkenberg’s impressive qualifying in Barcelona saw the German appear in Q3 for the third time this season, where he qualified 8th but started 7th thanks to a 6-place grid drop for Pierre Gasly. Saturday was undoubtedly the highlight of the weekend for Haas as high tyre degradation has made a return for the American team.

Last weekend both Haas drivers finished outside the points with Hulkenberg finishing in 15th and Kevin Magnussen in 18th respectively. Whilst the rest of the field opted for a two-stop strategy, Haas were forced to bring their drivers in three times during the Spanish Grand Prix.

Hulkenberg gave his honest opinion on the race saying: “Unfortunately, the deg was really high for us and we had to three-stop, whereas a lot of the competition two stopped, and yet still the pace was similar to them.

“It looks at first glance that over one lap we’re competitive but in the long runs we still have some homework to do and pace to find.”

The Haas driver explained that the option to go to a three-stop strategy was the ‘bail-out option’, with tyre degradation being high all race long: “It started right after the start, and they (the tyres) were just eaten up alive pretty much. I instantly ran into heavy graining front and rear, and I was just going backwards.

“We opted to stop early but the trend continued, even on the medium, and on the hard tyre.

“I think the pace was then okay relative to our main competition, but obviously we were a stop behind. You’re not going to catch that up, and we weren’t able to outpace them, even with fresher tyres.”

Whilst the German was criticised for over-driving his car at the start of each stint, which could partially explain the unusually high tyre degradation, Hulkenberg acknowledged the fact he pushed hard, but defended his actions by saying: “We’re at the back, we have to try something to create an opportunity.

“We’re not here to do a coffee race. I was consciously pushing, I heard the tyres screaming but I still had to do it.”

It’s evident that Haas’s tyre issues from 2019 have resurfaced. Although, not as extreme as Austria 2019 where Kevin Magnussen started the race in 5th and finished two laps down in 19th.

Hulkenberg acknowledged the one-lap pace of the car is strong, but no points are given out on a normal race weekend on a Saturday. Understandably he wants the strong pace to come on race day as he hopes to seek a better balance of performance between Saturday and Sunday.

“I’d rather have it the other way around,” said Hulkenberg on the raw speed of the car. “But that’s the trend and the characteristic we see so far this year.

“So, good over one lap but over 66 not so much, and we need to find something.

“We need to try and balance it more between Saturday and Sunday because whilst it’s nice to bang out a nice quali, it always raises expectations and then you get a downer on Sunday.”