Mistakes from Hulkenberg result in Q1 elimination

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Nico Hulkenberg was the surprise elimination during the first part of qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix today, with the German driver believing that mistakes on both of his last two flying laps of the session cost him a place in Q2.

The Force India driver qualified down in 18th position during the wet session today at Spa. This is his second-worst ever starting position for a grand prix, having started last for the 2012 Italian Grand Prix thanks to a gearbox change.

However, he did not look to palm off the blame for the result, admitting that he made some mistakes towards the end of the session in the rain.

“It was a difficult session in tricky conditions,” Hulkenberg said. “Initially it was looking good. I was on the pace and we chose to stay out on one set of intermediates for the whole session. Maybe that was a factor in missing out on Q2 because my tires were quite old and worn by the end of the session.

“Q2 should still have been possible, but I made mistakes on my last two laps and outbraked myself going into the final corner, went wide and lost time.”

However, the German driver is confident that he can bounce back in the race tomorrow after showing good signs of pace in practice yesterday.

“For the race tomorrow, I believe we can recover because we’ve got a solid car and the long run pace in the dry yesterday looked promising,” he said.

Hulkenberg’s teammate, Sergio Perez, failed to make it through to Q3 on Saturday, and will start the race from 13th position.

“It was not the easiest day for us,” he said. “I was struggling in the wet conditions and that was the main issue today. I wanted to be further up but we did not maximize everything.

“I’m feeling more optimistic for tomorrow and we should have strong race pace. P13 is not a bad place to start the race and I’m sure we can move forward and make up some positions.”

It will be interesting to see how Hulkenberg fares in the race tomorrow from so far back, but given the pace of the Force India and the power of the Mercedes engine, he should be aiming to pick up some points for a finish in the lower reaches of the top ten.

NEOM McLaren Formula E announces Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast for 2023 season

McLaren Formula E Hughes
McLaren Racing
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Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.

The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.

“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.

“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.

“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”

The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.

Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.

Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.

McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.