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Gunther Steiner’s Bold 7-Word Statement on Nico Hulkenberg Could Leave Max Verstappen Angered

Published 03/01/2024, 1:50 PM EST

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via Reuters

The first qualifying session of the 2024 season is done and dusted and we finally have an idea of the true pecking for the grid. While it was no surprise that Max Verstappen took the pole position for the race tomorrow, we did have a surprising entry into Q3. Nico Hulkenberg impressed everyone with his performance. He secured a spot in the top 10 and provided a boost for the Haas team, which had already kind of given up on their chances in the opening part of the season. Guenther Steiner, the former team boss at Haas, made a bold statement after the session ended, which will probably not sit well with the 3-time reigning world champion, Max Verstappen.

We saw last year just how good Hulkenberg can be in qualifying, despite not having the car to convert those grid spots into good race results. Craig Slater from Sky Sports spoke with Steiner and asked about the performance of the team. “I am very happy for the guys there. I am very happy for Nico,” said Steiner. “We know he is one of the best qualifiers, if not the best one out there. He just performs at that level, but it’s good for the guys at Haas that they work hard and they deserve it.”

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Nico Hulkenberg was left surprised by the VF-24 even before qualifying

Hulkenberg had expressed how he was surprised by the performance of his car during practice sessions ahead of qualifying. He described his one-lap pace as “a bit unexpected,” particularly after Haas Team Principal Ayao Komatsu had downplayed expectations during their car launch.

During the practice sessions, Hulkenberg clocked the seventh fastest time, acknowledging the team’s rapid pace over one lap. Despite his history of strong performances in qualifying, he remained cautious about raising expectations too high. “I think it’s been a pretty decent day, still of course big uncertainty on other people’s fuel loads and engine modes and stuff like that,” Nico said after FP3.

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In a post-qualifying interview, he highlighted the improvements made to the car since the previous season. He acknowledged that qualifying had been a strength for him and the team in the past, and expressed optimism about the potential shown during testing. Hulkenberg also addressed concerns about race-day performance, mentioning efforts to address issues with the car’s aerodynamics and tire management. He said, “Last year, quali and the one-lap pace was definitely our strong points. In testing, we hadn’t done low-fuel performance runs. Yesterday was the first time. I could sense and feel that there was potential. We want to get rid of the bad Sunday trend from last year.”

Can Haas keep up the pace on Saturday and perhaps score a point in the very first race of the season? Share your thoughts on the matter.

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Written by:

Veerendra Vikram Singh

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Veerendra Singh is a Motorsport writer at EssentiallySports who specializes in F1 coverage. Having followed the sport for more than 12 years, Veerendra excels in covering trend-setting articles and has covered Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton, Toto Wolff, and Charles Leclerc extensively during the 2023 F1 season. His Dale Earnhardt Jr post regarding the North Wilkesboro Speedway was shared by Save The Speedway Twitter account.
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Edited by:

Garima Yadav