Nico Hulkenberg qualified in fourth place for Saturday’s Sprint race, but has been called before the stewards in Austria.
The Haas driver put in the fourth-fastest time of Saturday’s Sprint Shoot-out in what was his latest display of qualifying heroics, but that grid position was briefly threatened as a result of a pit incident during the session.
The stewards have opted to give Haas a suspended fine for the incident, in which Hulkenberg clouted his own just-removed left-front tyre in the pits while exiting his pit box after a mechanic had placed it on the ground near his car.
Stewards reach a decision following Nico Hulkenberg investigation
A representative from Haas appeared before the stewards at 13:50 local time to explain the incident, with the stewards opting for a suspended €5000 fine after hearing the explanation.
“The Stewards heard from the team representative and reviewed video and in-car video evidence,” read the verdict.
“The team representative presented a comprehensive report of the investigations carried out by the team concerning the incident. It was clear that this was an unfortunate and unique incident in which the removed front left wheel was held too close to the car and the driver also took a sharper angle of departure due to the car controller of the next team in the pit lane, standing further out towards the fast lane than normal.
“The Stewards were impressed with the quality of the team investigations and report, and in particular, the corrective actions proposed to avoid a similar incident in the future. These corrective actions involve a change of procedures and crew positioning during a pitstop.”
The €5000 fine will be suspended over Haas until the end of the season, and will not be enforced unless there is a further unsafe release from the pits between now and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Nico Hulkenberg thrilled with quali showing
While qualifying has treated Haas well recently, with Hulkenberg even finishing qualifying in Montreal in second place before a penalty for going too quickly under red-flag conditions, race day has not gone quite as happily for the American squad.
But, having taken fourth place on the grid for the Sprint, Hulkenberg was all smiles.
“Yeah, it was good,” he said.
“It was fun actually, you know Saturday morning straight in a quali is different but it’s a good buzz, it’s certainly an adrenaline rush.
“Q3, obviously because I went quite far yesterday, I didn’t have any new softs anymore, only used, so we made the call to go on mediums which worked out quite well actually in the end for us with P4 so yeah, I’m pleased and happy about it.”
Asked whether he’ll be heading into the Sprint thinking about moving forwards and whether he’ll be looking over his shoulder, Hulkenberg said his car’s race pace means he’ll be glued to his mirrors.
“I don’t think we can go any more forwards, realistically,” he said.
“I think it’s a lot of quick cars behind us. We know the real challenge will come this afternoon and tomorrow afternoon. But yeah, we’ll see what we get and we’ll fight.”