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Formula 1 Australian GP

Hulkenberg: Albon's F1 Australian GP crash a “code brown” moment

Nico Hulkenberg says he had a “code brown” moment when he narrowly avoided the crashed car of Alex Albon during the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix.

Alex Albon, Williams Racing FW45

Albon was running in sixth place when he had a high-speed spin into a barrier and his damaged car rolled back towards the edge of the track.

The first drivers on the scene, Pierre Gasly and Hulkenberg, had virtually no warning – and only just missed the stricken Williams as they passed it at full speed. Hulkenberg admitted that he had a narrow escape.

"Holy moly, I mean seriously I had a code brown in that moment,” said the Haas driver, who ultimately finished seventh.

“That was seriously scary. I mean, thank God nothing happened. But this is a nightmare scenario. You've come around a blind corner in a street circuit.

“I mean, that was seriously scary and sketchy. That's a bad example of a driver losing the car, crashing and coming back onto the track, and because there's a gravel trap, there was dust, so you could not really see much.

“I think Pierre was in front of me, he was the first car, I was the second car, and no marshal in the world can react that fast.

“We didn't have yellow flags, I just saw the cloud of dust and I saw gravel flying around, so I sort of didn't take the ideal or normal racing line, I went a bit wider.

“I think I still didn't miss him by much though, I immediately shouted on the radio that we need a safety car and that it was a dangerous situation.” 

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Hulkenberg spent much of the race battling with Lando Norris, before eventually losing out to the McLaren driver when he had a tyre graining issue.

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas VF-23

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas VF-23

Photo by: Lionel Ng / Motorsport Images

At the late restart caused by team-mate Kevin Magnussen’s crash, Hulkenberg jumped up to fourth after capitalising on the chaotic scenes at Turns 1 and 3 as Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll plunged into the gravel, Fernando Alonso was spun out by Carlos Sainz, while Pierre Gasly crashed into Esteban Ocon. 

However the subsequent red flag reset the order for the final restart - a single lap run behind the safety car - in the same order as the cars lined up for the third start, minus the two eliminated Alpines. After the penalty for Sainz spinning Alonso was applied, Hulkenberg was classified seventh, logging his first points of his comeback.

Haas subsequently appealed the result, but this was thrown out by the stewards.

“It was a crazy race, so many things happened, so many different scenarios,” Hulkenberg said. “Obviously at the red flag we got a free stop, it kind of played into our hands.

“Then I had a pretty lonely race just following the top guys, then defending to Lando I struggled a little bit with the tyres, I couldn't defend my position unfortunately.

“It was kind of in control for P9 or maybe P10. And then the red flags came about again, and everything started to heat up again and to spiral a bit crazy.

“But good start practice for me, and they were all very good. The last one I actually came from P8 through to P4. I managed to stay clean and wasn't involved in any incidents.

“So that was nice, but unfortunately they red-flagged it very soon after that, so we couldn't bring that home.

“Nevertheless I think a lot of positives to take. We were competitive once again.”

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