Racing Point substitute Nico Hulkenberg admitted he “didn’t get everything from the table” after failing to progress into Q3 in Formula 1’s British Grand Prix qualifying.
The German has faced a steep learning curve since jumping into the Racing Point RP20 on Friday morning in place of Sergio Perez, who was sidelined by a positive COVID-19 test.
Hulkenberg has also had to cope with the strain on his neck at one of the toughest tracks of the year given his lack of mileage in the car and ability to prepare.
He made it through Q1 in fifth place, having been obliged to use a second set of tyres.
However an attempt to join other frontrunners in getting out of Q2 on the medium tyre didn’t come off, and although he was 10th after the first runs, he slipped to 13th at the end of the session after switching to the softs.
His team mate Lance Stroll did progress and ultimately qualified sixth, and Hulkenberg acknowledged that it had been a difficult day.
“I feel there was more potential and I didn’t get everything from the table,” Hulkenberg told Sky F1.
“But given the circumstances it was also very hard, I don’t know if you can expect to get 100% from the car in those circumstances.
“It was small margins, and then Q3 was not far away. We played around with the different compounds, so it was a bit tricky also with the rhythm. It is what it is for today.”
Hulkenberg agreed that a free choice of tyres for the start would at least give him a strategic advantage over some of those ahead.
“Yes, that’s always a good option. Some of the other top 10 runners that were also starting on the harder tyres, on medium.
“So it’s going to be interesting to see, so many new inputs and everything I enter into with the car is new.
“First time quali, first time low-fuel, first time high-fuel so I have to learn and soak everything in; digest it fast which hasn’t been easy. But I’ve also been enjoying it.”
When asked about the physical challenge of returning to F1, he said: “Let me tell you these cars are beasts.
“So much downforce, I’ve never felt so much speed in the corners, so much Gs. But also tough.”