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Nico Hulkenberg

FIA deliver Hulkenberg decision after investigation

The Haas driver was investigated an hour after achieving a shock front row start for the Canadian Grand Prix in tricky qualifying conditions.

Hulkenberg Canada wet
Article
To news overview © XPBimages

Nico Hulkenberg has been given a three-place grid penalty for a red flag breach after achieving a shock front row start for the Canadian Grand Prix.

The Haas driver was found guilty of failing to follow procedure during the stoppage following Oscar Piastri's crash at Turn 6.

It was noted, however, that mitigation determined the penalty would be reduced from a 10-place drop to three.

"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," read the FIA stewards' report.

"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.

"Comparison of telemetry with that of Car 31 [Esteban Ocon] 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."

Why was Hulkenberg investigated?

The Haas driver made it through to Q3 during the tricky conditions and managed to put in a good enough lap during the initial top ten shootout for P2 on the grid.

Hulkenberg crossed the line with six seconds to spare before the red flag was brought out by Oscar Piastri who crashed his McLaren.

Hours after the session, stewards announced they were investigating Hulkenberg over a potential breach of the red flag rules for allegedly not adhering to the minimum sector time each driver must keep to for safety reasons.

This was committed on his in-lap as he completed his best timed effort, with onboards showing that he was notified by his engineer Gary Gannon about the red flag as he braked into Turn 1.

After some confusion over the delta time, Gannon then told Hulkenberg he was going too fast under red flag conditions. This is where the main focus of the stewards' investigation lay.

Hulkenberg radio exchange

Hulkenberg Gannon
"Red flag, red flag, need to be plus on delta time, plus on delta time."
"The beeping drives me nuts, do I need to be negative or positive?”
"You should be positive now, plus, so you need to slow down. Slow down and also it’s a double yellow here."
"No, I think I'm going too slow. I need to go faster. I don't know, you tell me."
"Is this too fast or too slow?"
"It's too fast. Too fast. Because it's a red flag."

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