Nico Hulkenberg loses second place at Canadian GP… for going too slow!

Hulkenberg sensationally put his Haas just behind Max Verstappen’s Red Bull in Qualifying for the 2023 Canadian GP

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After putting his Haas second in Qualifying for the 2023 Canadian Grand Prix, it was heartbreak for Nico Hulkenberg as he was handed a three-place grid drop for going to slow under red flag conditions and not keeping up with the FIA delta time.

In Q3 of Qualifying, Hulkenberg was last to cross the start-finish line before the red flag came out following Oscar Piastri dumping his McLaren into the wall. After Qualifying was completed, the stewards started an investigation into Hulkenberg failing to stay above the minimum time. 

“Alleged breach of Article 37.6 a) of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations – Car 27 failing to stay above the minimum time set by the FIA ECU at 16:59,” a statement released by the FIA read. 

Hulkenberg then attended a meeting with the stewards to explain the situation and offer an explanation as to why he did not meet the delta time set by the FIA. 

Hulkenberg handed Canadian GP grid penalty

After being found guilty of an offence, Hulkenberg was handed a three-place grid penalty for the 2023 Canadian GP.

“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 decision document from the FIA read.

“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.

Nico Hulkenberg of Haas during 2023 Canadian GP practice | Jake Grant / LAT Images

“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.

“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 radio conversation on in-lap

As soon as the red flag came out, the Haas driver was told over team radio: “red flag, red flag, need to be plus on delta time, plus on delta time.”

Then during a radio conversation with Gary Gannon, his race engineer, told Hulkenberg that he had to stick to a miniumum time on his his in-lap. 

Hulkenberg: “The beeping drives me nuts, do I need to be negative or positive?”

Gannon: “You should be positive now, plus, so you need to slow down. Slow down and also it’s a double yellow here.”

Hulkenberg: “No, I think I’m going too slow. I need to go faster. I don’t know, you tell me.”

Then later, Hulkenberg: “Is this too fast or too slow? Tell me” 

Gannon: “It’s too fast. Too fast. Because it’s a red flag.”

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