Nico Hulkenberg loses front row start for red flag infringement

Sam Cooper
Nico Hulkenberg at the post-season test. Abu Dhabi November 2022.

Nico Hulkenberg talking to a Haas engineer at the post-season test. Abu Dhabi November 2022.

Nico Hulkenberg has cruelly missed out on his first front row start since 2016 for going too slowly under a red flag.

It looked to have been the perfect day for Hulkenberg and Haas as they made the most of wet conditions to perfectly time their tyre strategy in Montreal.

With Hulkenberg sitting in P2 behind only Max Verstappen, the red flag was waved following an Oscar Piastri crash but once the green light was shown, the weather had got worse and made any chance of meaningful flying laps impossible.

Hulkenberg conducted his post-session media duties with a smile on his face but his happiness will have taken a dent as he has been handed a three-place grid penalty and one penalty point for failing to stay above the minimum speed limit under a red flag.

The stewards admitted that there was “no question” Hulkenberg had not acted dangerously but said the regulation isi clear and a penalty had to be imposed.

Their verdict read: “The stewards heard from the driver of Car 27 (Nico Hulkenberg), team representative and reviewed positioning/marshalling system data, video, timing, telemetry, team radio and in-car video evidence.

“The driver had just finished his fastest lap and had started another push lap. He was at T1 when the red flag was displayed, however at that point he was already 1.5 seconds over his delta time. He claimed this made it extremely difficult for him to
come below the delta in the next sector.

“He also admitted to confusion about the beep signal in his headset, and therefore at one stage thought he was going too slow.

“Comparison of telemetry with that of Car 31 showed that in general for the rest of the lap he was approximately the same speed as Car 31 which complied with the delta times in each mini-sector. We regard this as a mitigating circumstance. recommends

Carlos Sainz handed grid penalty after Pierre Gasly impeding verdict

Yuki Tsunoda and Lance Stroll both drop grid positions for impeding

“However, the regulation is very clear and whilst there is no question of the driver acting dangerously or driving unsafely, there was a breach and thus a penalty has to be imposed.

“The normal penalty for failure to slow under red flags is 10 grid positions however in view of the mitigating circumstance, a lower penalty is appropriate. We note the intention of the regulation is to ensure a car is not speeding during a red flag situation and there is no evidence that the speed was excessive in this case.

“We also note that the driver should make himself more familiar with the operational aspects of the delta signals.”

Hulkenberg will now start P5 between George Russell and Esteban Ocon.