Nico Hulkenberg joins Esteban Ocon in starting the Baku GP from the pit lane

Michelle Foster
Nico Hulkenberg, Haas, on the grid. Australia, April 2023.

Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg standing on the grid pre-race. Australia, April 2023.

Nico Hulkenberg will join Esteban Ocon in making a pit lane start at the Azerbaijan GP after Haas changed the set-up of his VF-23.

Hulkenberg qualified P17 on Friday night, neither Haas driver showing good pace around the streets of Baku with his team-mate Kevin Magnussen a place back in 18th.

But after a wretched sprint race, Hulkenberg losing places lap after lap as his VF-23 destroyed its tyres, Haas made the call to change his set-up.

That means an automatic pit lane start where the driver will be joined by Alpine’s Ocon.

The stewards report read: “The set-up was modified whilst the car was in parc ferme with the approval of the Technical Delegate further to a written request.

“The suspension set-up has been changed from that previously used in the Sprint. The competitor is therefore required to start the race from the pit lane as per article 40.9 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations.” recommends

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Hulkenberg hinted that changes were needed after his P15 in the sprint race but feared the parc ferme regulations would put paid to that.

“We have to look at that one as it was weird, after the first couple of laps the rear tyres completely switched off,” he revealed.

“I think we had pretty heavy graining, so we need to investigate, but it was definitely going in the wrong direction that race.”

He added: “There’s not much we can do being under parc ferme, which is a bit frustrating, and for the race we also start quite far back, so it’s going to be a tough one.”