Hulkenberg: Bottom half of F1 field 'not as good as it used to be'

Nico Hulkenberg believes the quality of the F1 drivers that make up the lower half of today's field... The post Hulkenberg: Bottom half of F1 field 'not as good as it used to be' appeared first on F1i.com.

Hulkenberg: Bottom half of F1 field 'not as good as it used to be'

Nico Hulkenberg believes the quality of the F1 drivers that make up the lower half of today's field is not as good as it used to be.

Although he remains Aston Martin F1's reserve driver, Hulkenberg has virtually closed the curtain on his time in Formula 1.

The 34-year-old, who holds the unenviable record in the sport as the driver who started the most Grands Prix – 179 – without ever stepping on to the podium, is seeking to open a new chapter in his motorsport career, perhaps by heading to America where an IndyCar drive with Arrow McLaren SP potentially awaits the German who tested for the team earlier this week.

Hulkenberg last raced full-time in F1 in 2019 with Renault with whom he enjoyed a three-year stint that came to an end when he was replaced by Esteban Ocon.

Three fill-ins followed in 2020 with Racing Point, but since, the Hulk has resigned to the idea that he has now likely permanently fallen off the F1 grid.

"I’ve got to be realistic there, that this train probably has left, especially given today’s current situation," he told Motorsport.com. "It is what it is.

Hulkenberg takes aim at some teams' preferred criteria when it comes to choosing their drivers, with talent often a secondary consideration.

"Obviously, as a driver you’re part of the process of the decision, but the teams ultimately take the decisions and some teams have some questionable taste or decision-making!" he admitted.

"And yeah, it’s a bit of an interesting situation in F1 in general at the moment.

  • Read also: Hulkenberg buoyed by 'good and successful' IndyCar test

"I feel like the top 10 drivers, maybe 12, they are really high quality and real top-notch drivers. And then the bottom half, the quality is not as high as it used to be. And there is a lot of other factors in there.

"So obviously, from my point of view it’s a little sad and disappointing to see that, but that’s just the way it is."

Hulkenberg enjoyed a strong entry into F1 with Williams in 2010, with the then young charger snatching pole at the end of season Brazilian Grand Prix.

But sadly, that feat remains the high point in an F1 career that spanned nine years, and then some, and which included four teams and perhaps a few wrong turns.

But the German refuses to dwell on the past, if for no other than the fact that he had "a good time".

"I mean, there are always things you can do better, but the hindsight business…it’s not my personality to dwell on that so long and so much," added Hulkenberg.

"Of course, there were things I could have done differently – actually, more early in my career – and steered things towards different situations. And, of course, I learned from those, but…it’s done.

"So I don’t have too many regrets, to be honest. I had a really good time."

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Mercedes: One DNF in final races would be 'catastrophic'

Mercedes will continue to weigh its performance versus the reliability of its power unit in the final five... The post Mercedes: One DNF in final races would be 'catastrophic' appeared first on F1i.com.

Mercedes: One DNF in final races would be 'catastrophic'

Mercedes will continue to weigh its performance versus the reliability of its power unit in the final five races of 2021 but admits that one retirement would be "catastrophic" for its title chances against Red Bull.

Ahead of last weekend's US Grand Prix in Austin, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff revealed that the Brackley squad was concerned with the reliability issues impacting its power unit.

Wolff said the problems were "not trivial" for the German manufacturer which supplied fresh hardware to Valtteri Bottas and to two customer teams at the Circuit of the Americas.

In Mercedes' US Grand Prix video debrief on YouTube, chief strategist James Vowles explained why the team had replaced Bottas' Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) and how it is trying to prevent a failure that would likely spell the end of the team's 2021 title fight against rival Red Bull.

©Mercedes

"We're balancing performance versus reliability to the end of the season," said explained the Mercedes engineer.

"One failure to finish a race, be it because of a chassis or power unit fault, would be catastrophic for the championship. And as a result of that, we are managing that in the best way possible to the end of the year.

"In the case of Valtteri, that meant taking one further ICE to make sure we had absolutely the best compromise.

"As to whether it improved his performance, yes, a small amount but it is more about the balance across the remainder of the season than one event.

"So, this change, as painful as it was during the Austin Grand Prix, will actually pay dividends across the next few races."

  • Read also: Red Bull fears impact of Mercedes suspension in upcoming races

While an engine failure for title contender Lewis Hamilton would indeed likely be disastrous, a grid drop sanction in the wake of an engine replacement could prove just as ruinous for the Briton in his battle against Max Verstappen.

As Mercedes monitors its reliability concerns, it hasn't ruled out adding another unit to Hamilton's pool of hardware.

"I can’t say whether we will be taking one and what the percentage is, but obviously the risk is still there," admitted Wolff in Austin.

"What is difficult to evaluate is do you want to pre-empt the situation and take another penalty and take the hit or do you want to really run it and possibly risk a DNF, and that is a discussion that is happening as we speak, and we haven’t come to the right answers yet."

The championship will resume next week in Mexico City, a track that on paper should favour Red Bull which trails Mercedes in the Constructors' standings by 23 points while Verstappen leads the drivers' championship by 12 points from Hamilton.

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The post Mercedes: One DNF in final races would be 'catastrophic' appeared first on F1i.com.

Source : F1 i More   

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