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Nico Hulkenberg

Hulkenberg delivers early Komatsu verdict after Steiner change

The Haas driver delivered yet another top 10 performance in qualifying, and will start 10th for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Hulkenberg Bahrain FP3
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To news overview © XPBimages

Nico Hulkenberg says he can "feel" the difference in the atmosphere at Haas under new team boss Ayao Komatsu.

Over the winter, Komatsu stepped up from engineering chief to Team Principal after owner Gene Haas elected not to renew the contract of Guenther Steiner, who had led the team since its Grand Prix debut in 2016.

Steiner cultivated a reputation as a big character at the team, prone to swearing something Komatsu is not as he aims to mould Haas into his own image.

Hulkenberg, who qualified 10th for the season-opener, feels the basics of his job have not been altered by the change, but conceded the shift from Steiner to Komatsu "felt good."

"The job and what we do is all still the same, but you do feel that there's one person that has left with quite a strong character and there's a different person at the head of the team," Hulkenberg told media including RacingNews365 after qualifying 10th for the season-opener.

"I do feel it, I do sense it, it feels good so far.

"Obviously Ayao has his own management style, which is quite different from Guenther, but everyone is just focused on the season and looking to get going."

Hulkenberg also touched on his own qualifying effort, and described how the team did not do any low fuel runs in testing.

"We didn't really do any proper low-fuel running, it was all focused on long runs, high fuel," he explained of testing.

"But on the last day, we did take some fuel out and [in practice], I had a feeling that the potential was there on low fuel still, so we have it [in qualifying], but hopefully we've transformed the [races]."

After the session, former boss Steiner also weighed in on Hulkenberg's effort in grabbing another top 10 berth on the grid, lavishing praise on him.

"I'm very happy for the guys there, and very happy for Nico," Steiner told Sky Sports F1.

"We know that he is one of the best qualifiers, if not the best one out there and he just performs at that level.

"It is good for the guys at Haas, they work hard and deserve it."

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