Nico Hulkenberg Kicks Off 2023 With Top 10 Qualifying Performance

2023 Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying - Nico Hulkenberg
2023 Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying - Nico Hulkenberg

MoneyGram Haas F1 Team drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen qualified 10th and 17th respectively for the Bahrain Grand Prix, Round 1 of the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship.

Q1, the opening knockout session of qualifying, saw Hulkenberg and Magnussen set initial flying runs of 1:36.150 and 1:36.240 on new sets of Pirelli P Zero Red softs. The pair returned to the garage for fresh sets of the soft rubber for a second attack. Magnussen encountered traffic on his final run posting a 1:31.892 – the Dane’s qualifying effort coming to an end in P17. Hulkenberg, making his race weekend debut for MoneyGram Haas F1 Team graduated into Q2 with quick lap of 1:31.204 – good for P6 on the Q1 timesheet.

Hulkenberg continued to make rapid progress in Q2 with a flying lap of 1:30.809 earning the German P8 and entry into the final stage of qualifying – Q3. Locked into the top 10, Hulkenberg had just one timed run in Q3 but his effort of 1:31.055 was scrubbed for exceeding track limits at Turn 4. Regardless, P10 was secured for Hulkenberg with a row five grid slot bagged for Sunday’s race alongside Alpine’s Esteban Ocon.

Reigning World Champion Max Verstappen secured pole position with a Q3 lap of 1:29.708 – the Dutchman taking the top spot for the 57-lap Bahrain Grand Prix ahead of Red Bull Racing teammate Sergio Perez in second.

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Kevin Magnussen

“We got traffic in the final corner on the second run. It was so close – the whole field was bunched up – so if we lose a little bit, it’s game over. It’s a little bit unfortunate but the race is tomorrow, and we’ll try to do better there. There’s still stuff to work on, so we’ll see how we go in the race.”

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Nico Hulkenberg

“It wasn’t perfect in Q3 unfortunately, but I don’t think I’m going to let that ruin my day. I think it was pretty decent – I was pretty happy how I was able to produce and deliver the laps. I think we saw already yesterday how over one lap we’re in a decent spot and quite competitive, but the real test will come tomorrow. The big emphasis and focus is there, I expect a really tough battle and race but I’m excited and looking forward to it.”

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Guenther Steiner, Team Principal

“It was a pretty good day for us today. I think we now know what we can do this year and I think Nico did a fantastic job on his comeback. We had two down points, Kevin going out Q1. Today was not his day but he knows what he can do and he’s upbeat about what the car is doing, so tomorrow is another day for him to score points. With Nico in Q3, we didn’t end up where we wanted to but P10 is very good for us. The whole team did a fantastic job and all the work that was put in last year and over winter to make and develop this car has come to fruition, so well done to everybody.”

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