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Mexican Siesta instead of Q2 in Australia

Mexican Siesta instead of Q2 in Australia

Of all people, Esteban Ocon of the crisis-hit Alpine team brought an early end to Nico Hulkenberg's qualifying in Australia. Emmericher was dissatisfied with VF-24 all weekend. Haas didn't have a good track, he didn't have a clean lap in qualifying, and then there was Sergio Perez.

Hulkenberg: Sergio Perez first, then himself

“I think he was taking a Mexican siesta and didn't look in the mirror,” said Nico Hulkenberg, furious with Sergio Perez. The Red Bull driver stood in his way at 13th on his first fastest attempt and was moved three places back on the grid for his offence.

Nico Hulkenberg annoyed at not qualifying, photo: LAT Images

In his second run, Hulkenberg got his own way. “I couldn't put together a clean lap,” Emmericher said angrily. The wind suddenly became seven, three to four-tenths faster than before. His fate was sealed as he damaged the front tires with nine mistakes. “Then I was so down and lost all the time I had.”

But the VF-24 didn't find the right balance from lap one of the first free practice session at Albert Park. Very little downforce, very little grip. “The car wasn't comfortable in the fast corners. We felt like we were a bit behind the whole weekend,” explained the 36-year-old. “All in all, our backs are against the wall.”

“We don't have a buffer in the car, we don't go fast on our own,” explains Hulkenberg. It had to be done in the qualifiers as well Kevin Magnussen admits defeat. It was 0.267 seconds faster and started from P14 at the Australian GP.

Despite the lack of grip, Magnussen was happy with the balance of his Haas. “We don't have the amount of downforce for this route,” he says. Future updates should improve this. “On the positive side, we're very efficient in the straight line. In previous years we weren't one or the other.”

The Dane is also very optimistic about the race: “We've had two good races so far in terms of tire management.” In Saudi Arabia, thanks to Kevin Magnussen's (anti-) heroics, Nico Hulkenberg scored a first point for Haas with P10 and sent the team to P6 in the Constructors' Championship.

With P7, Hulkenberg secured his best result in Australia in 2023, Photo: LAT Images
With P7, Hulkenberg secured his best result in Australia in 2023, Photo: LAT Images

Unlike his teammate, Hulkenberg is a little more pessimistic about the race: “Very difficult. A lot has to happen for it to happen.” Postscript: “But maybe it'll be exciting in Granning.” Good for Haas: Pirelli traveled to Melbourne with a softer tire compound than last year.