Hulkenberg and Sauber endure a disappointing weekend in Australia

Nico Hulkenberg was forced to sit out the Australian GP

Nico Hulkenberg was forced to sit out the Australian GP

Nico Hulkenberg’s run of bad luck at the Australian Grand Prix continued on Sunday when he was unable to even make it onto the grid for the start of the race after his Sauber developed a fuel system problem.

The German, who had qualified 11th, was making his final preparations for his debut for his new team in his 40th race when the fault was identified and it was deemed too dangerous for him to start.

The 25-year-old’s problems at Albert Park began on his first race lap on the Melbourne street circuit in 2010 when Japan’s Kamui Kobayashi crashed into a barrier and careered into Hulkenberg’s Williams, ending his race.

Two years later, Hulkenberg was back with Force India but, having qualified an impressive ninth, damaged his car in a first corner incident and failed to make it to the end of the opening lap. “I’m bitterly disappointed about what happened today,” he said. “(But) things like this happen in racing.”

Nico Hulkenberg

Nico Hulkenberg showed good pace on the first two days in Melbourne

“Obviously, Melbourne is not a good place for me. It was my third grand prix here and the third time that I leave this place empty handed. The only good thing is that the next race takes place next weekend.”

It was a disappointing weekend for the entire Sauber team, celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, who had been encouraged by their pace in the first two free practice sessions on Thursday but ended up without any points.

Mexican Esteban Gutierrez failed to get through the chaotic first round of qualifying on Saturday and started the race in 18th position before battling his way up to 13th – first among the five rookies in the field.

Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sauber C32.Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday 16 March 2013.

Nico Hulkenberg is wheeled into the Sauber pit garage

“My main goal was to finish the race, and to achieve that is really enjoyable,” said the 21-year-old.

Team principal Monisha Kaltenborn sounded as anxious to get away from Melbourne and on to the second race in Sepang as Hulkenberg.

“This was not the way we expected the new Formula One season to start,” she said. “The problem with the fuel system was unlucky, particularly at this point in the race weekend.

“We are very sorry for Nico. Esteban drove a solid first race. However, starting from P18 was too much of a handicap for him.

“I’m confident we will solve the problems we had and that we will be in better shape in Malaysia.”

  • seeing scarlet

    Poor Peter Sauber, Kaltenborn really screwed the pooch. New driver line up good job Kobyashi was the best driver she had and in her Great Wisdom? Sauber sucked. Now I read Sauber is considering selling the team.

  • Apex Assassin

    Sauber has always considered selling the team. Where do you think the VW/Porsche rumours come from? And Koby was a joke.

    As for Sauber… what a terrible disappointment. After all the media hype and punditry, that was just an awful showing. As a fan of privateers, I was hoping this would be the year Peter see’s his team win.

    And who didn’t think Hulk made the clearly smart move? Now both Sutil and Di Resta have points and Hulk has nothing but a new chassis and his work cut out for him.

  • Ride me sideways

    Apex assassin koby was no joke he is far better that hulk and mono brow put together