Hulkenberg handed pitlane start penalty
Nico Hulkenberg will be forced to start the Spanish Grand Prix from the pitlane for breaking parc ferme rules, after his Renault team changed the specification of his front wing in qualifying on Saturday.
The German made a mistake during his run run in Q1, running wide and tapping the barriers at Turn 4 – with the impact damaging his front wing.
Although he was able to return to the pits and get running again after a replacement front wing was fitted, he failed to make it through to Q2 and was set to start 16th.
Hulkenberg had said at the time that he thought the front wing had been replaced by one of the same specification.
“We changed the front wing, but it was the same spec,” he said. “The whole car was stone blasted, so there were quite a lot of bits and bobs missing.”
However, a note from the FIA’s technical delegate Jo Bauer on Sunday morning said that Hulkenberg had been fitted with a different specification wing and was under investigation - and the stewards swiftly issued a verdict that consigned the German to a pitlane start.
"The Stewards reviewed the evidence from the Technical Delegate and sought
clarification from the Team Sporting Director," the verdict read.
"The Sporting Director advised that the Team’s opinion was that the front wing main plane was 'similar' to the one it replaced.
"However the Team was willing to accept the view of the FIA Technical Delegate that the front wing is of a different specification from the one used during qualifying.
"Accordingly, the Stewards determine that the competitor is required to start the race
from the pit lane."
Hulkenberg said the incident itself had been triggered by a small mistake under braking.
“A little lock up on Turn 4, probably wanting a little bit too much too soon,” he said. “No one to blame but myself.
“Obviously it’s one corner where you can’t really recover off line, there’s no grip. And then the gravel and the barrier comes to you. So unfortunately I went off and damaged the front wing and some stuff of the car, and it was difficult to recover from there. It was definitely not one of my finest moments.”
With Hulkenberg starting from the pitlane, Renault has also used the opportunity to fit a new powerunit to his car - including ICE, turbo, MGU-H, MGU-K and control electronics.
The change means that Hulkenberg now has an extra powerunit added to his pool which could help him avoid penalties later in the campaign.
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