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GP Week : Issue 194
The meteoric rebirth of sauber after the mid-season break came to a crushing halt in Abu Dhabi with both esteban Gutierrez and Nico Hulkenberg failing to reach the points. But it was Hulkenberg’s hopes that were dealt the cruellest blow of all cour tesy of a drive -through penalty. Positively beaming after his impressive sixth place in qualifying – fifth after the exclusion of Kimi Raikkonen – Hulkenberg believed Sauber’s form was actually more reflective of their third place showing in Monza, but admitted Sunday would be a tight battle given the team’s long run pace was relatively close to that shown by Ferrari. “I have a lot of confidence in the car,” Hulkenberg said on Saturday. “T he relationship with my engineer is better; everything is bedded in now in terms of being smoother. Those tiny details make a difference.” Unfortunately, it was the tiny details that brought Hulkenberg’s weekend to a challenging conclusion. Pitting on lap 29, Sauber released Hulkenberg into the path of Perez’ McLaren. A now customary radio tantrum form Perez claiming he “nearly crashed into the Sauber” certainly would have gained the attention of the stewards if the incident alone hadn’t done the trick. Hulkenberg was handed a drive-through penalty on lap 35, dropping the German down to eleventh place. Despite the penalty, it was an inherent lack of feel that ultimately ended Hulkenberg’s hopes of a decent points haul, with Saturday’s impressive handling nowhere during the race. An inability to get the Sauber turned in through Yas Marina’s tricky 90 -degree sequence of corners, Hulkenberg was incapable of making an impression on his nearest competitors McLaren and was eventually forced to settle for 14th behind teammate Esteban Gutierrez. “I ’m not quite sure what happened today,” Hulkenberg said after the race. “I’d felt comfortable with the car all weekend, but from lap one I was struggling with it. All the balance and the confidence I had was gone today, and I don’t know why. I had a lot of understeer in the first two stints. “I couldn’t really rotate the car, which cost a lot of lap time. Then the unsafe release during my second pit stop, which resulted in a drive through penalty, was also quite costly. Now we have to evaluate as to why the car was so different today. It is disappointing, because there was a realistic chance for points today.” the hulk hamstrung by pit blunder 33 GPWEEK.com // 33 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> ABU DHABI