An unsighted Nico Hulkenberg had quite the scare when he suddenly reached the scene of Alex Albon’s crash in Melbourne.
Albon triggered the first red flag stoppage of a chaotic race at Albert Park after he lost control of the Williams FW45 coming out of Turn 6, causing him to hit the wall and bring his race to an early end, though the Thai driver was fortunately unhurt.
The incident, which Williams team boss James Vowles explained was down to an unexpected drop in tyre grip, was covered under the Safety Car at first, before it was decided that red flags were needed due to the amount of gravel which had been deposited onto the track.
But in the immediate aftermath of Albon’s shunt, Hulkenberg was one of the very first to arrive on that scene, the Haas driver taking last-ditch avoiding action as he entered the Turn 6/Turn 7 complex.
Hulkenberg was quick to use team radio to report the incident and the need for a Safety Car, which soon came.
“Holy moly, I mean seriously I had a code brown in that moment,” said Hulkenberg, as per RacingNews365.com.
“That was seriously scary. I mean, thank God nothing happened. But this is a nightmare scenario. You’ve come around a blind corner in a street circuit. I mean, that was seriously scary and sketchy.
“That’s a bad example of a driver losing the car, crashing and coming back onto the track, and because there’s a gravel trap, there was dust, so you could not really see much.
“I think Pierre [Gasly] was in front of me, he was the first car, I was the second car, and no marshal in the world can react that fast.
“We didn’t have yellow flags, I just saw the cloud of dust and I saw gravel flying around, so I sort of didn’t take the ideal or normal racing line, I went a bit wider.
“I think I still didn’t miss him by much though, I immediately shouted on the radio that we need a Safety Car and that it was a dangerous situation.”
That turned out not to be the end of Hulkenberg’s dramas, as on the final lap behind the Safety Car to bring the race to a close, he was almost unable to get the sole remaining Haas VF-23 going again, though managed to make it to the chequered flag before parking up at Turn 2.
A P7 finish it was then for Hulkenberg, his first points finish since returning to Formula 1 for the 2023 campaign.