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F1 | Why Hulkenberg Impressed Despite Finishing Last

Super sub Nico Hulkenberg took in his third F1 qualification of the season in Germany earlier today, and despite ending up P20, here's why it was a very impressive performance from the German driver.

On paper, qualifying dead last in front of your home fans in a car capable of fighting for top six finishes doesn't sound like the makings of a strong performance, however for 33-year-old German driver Nico Hulkenberg the start of his Eifel Grand Prix weekend was yet another display of talent that really should be on show full time in Grand Prix racing.

Firstly, let's look at the facts. Hulkenberg managed to get out onto the Nurburgring Grand Prix Circuit for the first part of qualification and completed four tours of a track he last raced a Grand Prix car on in 2013. At the same time, teammate and regular season driver Sergio Perez lapped 1 second faster than the German in the same car, progressing through to Q2 and an eventual ninth on the grid. On paper, this was not exactly at the level of his heroic Silverstone efforts.

Now let us take a look at the circumstances behind the Germans return to Racing Point.

At the British Grand Prix Hulkenberg was confirmed at the team on the Thursday prior to Free Practice, leaving the German with a handful of hours sleep, a seat fit, a Covid test and out on track for opening practice. At the time, many commented on the impressive showing considering the last minute nature of the deal.

This weekend, unbelievably, the deal came together even later than in Great Britain, as the German explains:

“It was even wilder and crazier than last time,” he said. “I was in Cologne which is an hour from here. I was due to come here this afternoon anyway, I was going to do some TV stuff from RTL tomorrow. I was sat with a friend having a coffee at 11am when I see that Otmar rings me and says ‘Hulkenberg, hurry we need you here’.​

For someone who had no expectation and preparation, Hulkenberg had to drive to the circuit in his road car, take a Covid test, find some overalls and jump in the car for the first time in months, acquaint himself with an updated machine, and hit the track for just four laps in what many regard to be the tightest midfield battle in recent years. That's pretty tight timings even for a driver who's getting used to leaving driving duties to the last minute.

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It isn't even like Hulkenberg had the same machine underneath him as at Silverstone, as the British squad have put plenty of development into the RP20 since the last time they needed the services of the former Renault driver.

“It felt quite different again to Silverstone, obviously a completely different circuit, the car has moved on too, there’s a couple of technical bits that are very different and give the driver a very different sensation, so I had to adjust around that a bit and find my feet again.
“In four laps that’s not so easy. All in all, even though I’m last, I’m quite pleased with the laps we’ve produced right now.”

We all know that elite sportspeople need confidence and experience in order to get the best from themselves at the level Formula One drivers operate, and to come into an ultra competitive environment like this, with absolutely zero preparation time and only four laps on which to perform, I think it's fair to say that Nico Hulkenberg performed at a much higher and more impressive level than the raw timesheets suggest.

Sergio Perez is absolutely no slouch in the sister Racing Point, and to end up 'only' 1 second shy of his Mexican teammates time, with several obvious losses of time thanks to lock-ups and a scruffy final chicane on his timed laps, it is easy to see where much of that deficit was left out on the circuit.

Will his third outing result in another haul of points? From P20 with only four laps on the books that will be a tall order, but whatever the result, Nico Hulkenberg once again demonstrated why he deserves a drive on the Formula One grid, in my opinion at least.


Join the discussion! Check out the Eifel Grand Prix discussion thread ahead of the exciting return of the Nurburgring venue this Sunday. Click HERE.

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RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief, occasional YouTuber, commentator and broadcaster, with a passion for motorsport on both the real and virtual racetrack.

Goffik

A legend in my own mind...
Staff member
Premium
Sep 28, 2009
11,604
7,864
I really don't understand why this guy is sitting on the sidelines this year. We have drivers like Grosjean doing nothing useful other than entertaining us with his "what will he do next?" style, while a quality driver like the Hulk has no drive. It's absurd. Ditch the rich kid and give Hulk his car. Hulk + Perez + car capable of best-of-the-rest = epic.

Really hope he shines tomorrow. :thumbsup:
 

safi hellie

250RPM
Jul 18, 2019
296
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Very intrigued about this bit:

there’s a couple of technical bits that are very different and give the driver a very different sensation, so I had to adjust around that a bit and find my feet again.

Wonder what they are that is so different from Silverstone to make the cars whole sensation feel different?
No doubt since Renault kicked off, they have gone up and RP down..
 

kilder

25RPM
Nov 5, 2009
39
31
Don't get me wrong, but this guy is a super overrated driver, never managed to get a single podium when even Lance Stroll had one with a williams. Really, I don't get why people always try to say good thing about this guys when he clearly does not deserve it. With so many good options from F2, why not to give'em chances? Seriously, why a P20 with a pink mercedes can "impress" someone? I don't want to sound bad, but this is just my opinion...
 

Nick Hill

1000RPM
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Oct 26, 2013
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I've sort of reversed course on the Hulk. When he was let go, I was of the opinion, eh, he's had his chances, let's get some fresh faces in there. But, here's the thing: I don't think modern F1 is all that keen on "fresh faces". We've definitely had some exciting young talent come in over the past few years but, on the other hand, you've still got a lot of your same-old seat fillers (Grosjean, etc). Put in that light, I guess I'd prefer to have Hulk back in the mix full time.

As an interesting side note, Autosport still has him as #1 in their driver ratings based on his part time work.
 

Durge Driven

2000RPM
Jun 17, 2017
2,322
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Qualifying was hours ago, you can't expect everyone to be put on hold for you can you?
If you are that concerned stay away till till you have watched it?
Where does it end?
Where does it end the end .....no spoilers in titles
Australia is a day behind :rolleyes: so wait it's okay as long as it doesn't affect you..... got it :thumbsup:

So all you do is agree they should leave spoilers ...thanks again :thumbsup:
 
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Durge Driven

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Jun 17, 2017
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So pardon me TOASTY when RD were doing so many F1 spoilers it ruined races even if you lived in the same time zone ( a few years back there ) myself and many others people complained about it and
they stopped so thanks for nothing :thumbsup:

Of course it's easier for many to have to avoid it and change their behavior compared to one person leaving out a few words before hitting send
That was part of our defense

Just don't go on social media, if you don't want spoilers lol
Some people...
How patronizing of course everyone knew what sites to stay off :rolleyes: I also know the ones to trust

....like I said you think its better 100's avoid social media vs one person omitting a few words for a day ....just great great :thumbsup:

Some people
 
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BP

1000RPM
Premium
Nov 1, 2016
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Is this the perfect version of RaceDepartment? (cue Rosberg explosion) :D
1602383907779.png


(in case it's not obvious: It's a joke...I avoid anything remotely connected to racing to avoid spoilers...adapt to the world, don't expect it to adapt to you.)
 
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aphidgod

2000RPM
Premium
Jun 27, 2015
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Right. Staying away from sites that specialize in racing news if you don't want racing news seems fairly obvious.

Take a little responsibility for yourself. The rest of us have every right to talk about this. You're not that important.
 

anton_Chez

2000RPM
Jun 1, 2016
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Is it THAT important to know why Hulkenburg was great finishing last? I mean, I understand that the whole world cannot stop while people catch up on replays, but we live in an ON DEMAND world. People that live in different parts of the world do not get the luxury to watch most things live, people work 24/7 these days, and everything is touted as being on demand.

How hard is it for the GT Challenge Youtube channel to NOT put the winner in the thumbnail? If you cannot understand someone's frustration with what happened here, when for the longest time RD has done a great job of not spoiling F1 races, then I'm sorry but you're inconsiderate and I can only hope that something that is important to you is taken away so you gain some perspective.

How hard is it to be a f*cking person?
 
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BP

1000RPM
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Nov 1, 2016
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Wow, come on guys. You don't walk into a butcher shop and complain when you smell meat.

I for one can't watch everything when they happen as well, but the world doesn't revolve around me or any 1 person...inconvenience for you is convenience for others and vice versa (some might want to know quickly who won so they can get on with their day and watch how they won later, for example). Adapt and keep it moving.

People run the site and do the best they can...how hard is it to be a person and accept responsibility for your actions? RD is another "On Demand" place; if you demand to see what's on RD before you get caught up on the things that are expected to be discussed on a RACING website, then that sounds like a you problem. If I miss an F1or eSports race, RD is THE LAST PLACE I'D VISIT if I want to watch it unfold in real time...that's not RD staff being irresponsible or inconsiderate, that's common sense.

Let it not be said that I didn't offer a solution though: here's one way to adapt if thumbnails are spoiling too much for you on those busy days: https://thegeekpage.com/stop-images-showing-web-pages/ ...works for RD, Youtube...everywhere. quick and easy to enable/disable.
 

Slapped

250RPM
Oct 2, 2019
327
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Is it THAT important to know why Hulkenburg was great finishing last? I mean, I understand that the whole world cannot stop while people catch up on replays, but we live in an ON DEMAND world. People that live in different parts of the world do not get the luxury to watch most things live, people work 24/7 these days, and everything is touted as being on demand.

How hard is it for the GT Challenge Youtube channel to NOT put the winner in the thumbnail? If you cannot understand someone's frustration with what happened here, when for the longest time RD has done a great job of not spoiling F1 races, then I'm sorry but you're inconsiderate and I can only hope that something that is important to you is taken away so you gain some perspective.

How hard is it to be a f*cking person?
I really don't get these complaints about spoilers at all. I live in the same time zone where mosts GP is take place, and I don't always get the chance to watch them live. Rather than selfishly demanding that everybody else STFU about F1 until I've had a chance to watch it myself, I simply accept there's a high chance I'll know the result before I watch the race. Which is honestly no big deal because more often than not the journey is far more important than the destination.

As far as perspective is concerned here's mine. If the only thing in life that you have to worry about is not knowing the result of a race before you watch it, then you are doing pretty bloody well.

Oh and just to show you that I am indeed a "f*cking person", and that I'm considerate of others then you can use this link to access RD - https://www.racedepartment.com/forums/ - this will bypass the front page and put you straight into the forums section - no spoilers.
 

Enagee

500RPM
Oct 15, 2010
559
417
I can speak for myself on this... I hate spoilers and many of my friends already know how to open their mouth on the phone by asking first... Have you watched Quali? Or the race?

I don't go on my phone or any news site if I haven't seen a session . To complain about spoilers... Is being like a spoilt kid.

Had hopes for Hulkenberg in Quali , but overall you can't expect too much given the circumstances.
Hope he does well in the race.
 
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tr1v1um

100RPM
May 19, 2013
213
388
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Don't get me wrong, but this guy is a super overrated driver, never managed to get a single podium when even Lance Stroll had one with a williams. Really, I don't get why people always try to say good thing about this guys when he clearly does not deserve it. With so many good options from F2, why not to give'em chances? Seriously, why a P20 with a pink mercedes can "impress" someone? I don't want to sound bad, but this is just my opinion...
He is so overheated that he wiped the floor with baby Stroll in his last outing this year. You can't determine the quality of a driver with the number of podiums, victories or whatever. There are many examples of people who should have had, but haven't. Not because they are bad drivers but they propably had no luck most of the time. I remember Hulkenberg driving circles around everyone else in A1GP and his last race demonstrates it even more: this guy belongs on the grid.
 

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