Perhaps overshadowed by Sahara Force India teammate Sergio Perez, who graced the podium in Sunday’s European Grand Prix at Baku, Azerbaijan, Nico Hulkenberg still had a decent day of his own en route to his third consecutive points finish.
Hulkenberg started 12th and finished ninth, thus adding that result to finishes of sixth in Monaco and eighth in Canada the last two weeks.
Key to his race today was his final stint on Pirelli’s supersoft tires, having stretched them the last 31 laps in the 51-lap race.
“Just about at the end they were shaved. They had nothing left!” Hulkenberg told NBCSN’s Will Buxton post-race.
“It was a tricky race. I had a good start. Then I got hit into Turn 1. I couldn’t recover from a spin. Then we lost a couple positions at the exit of Turn 1. From there onwards, I had to go through traffic a bit. So 30 to 31 laps was a big ask.”
Interestingly, Hulkenberg’s day of tire saving occurred mere hours after the team he drove for this weekend last year – Porsche Team – captured the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Le Mans, of course, requires quite a bit of tire saving and double, triple or sometimes quadruple stinting the tires.
Asked by Buxton about Porsche’s shock win, which came when Toyota’s leading No. 5 car ground to a halt in the final five minutes, Hulkenberg had nothing but congratulations to offer.
“Congrats to Porsche. To everyone in the team. I’m very excited to be honest, to hear that,” he said.
“I know how hard these guys work, they fully deserve it. Congratulations from the bottom of my heart!”