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Hulkenberg to start Azerbaijan GP from pitlane after set-up change

Nico Hulkenberg will start the Azerbaijan Grand Prix from the pitlane, as his Haas team has elected to make a set-up change to his Formula 1 car.

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas VF-23, arrives on the grid

Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

The German was due to start from 16th on the grid, following Alpine's decision to start Esteban Ocon from the pitlane in both the sprint and grand prix, amid a difficult qualifying performance.

Hulkenberg's fortunes improved in the sprint shootout where he qualified 12th, but fell back through the 17-lap race having endured severe rear tyre graining throughout and he finished 15th.

Haas has decided to sacrifice Hulkenberg's grid position to make changes to the car, breaking the parc ferme conditions that began once qualifying kicked off on Friday.

"I don't think [there was a problem with the car], it's just heavy graining after the safety car, three or four laps and then my tyres were just completely shot," Hulkenberg explained after the sprint.

"I had not much to work with and to fight with. So it's just dropping like a stone, and need to look at it, understand it, analyse it, it's a bit of a question mark at the moment.

"We expected some graining, but certainly not to this extent and to this level. So it's not just no traction, it's just no grip anywhere.

"On a track like here that's obviously pretty sketchy and tricky and feels very exposed."

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas F1 Team

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas F1 Team

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Assuming both cars make it to the pitlane exit ahead of the five-minute warning before the start of the race, Hulkenberg will still start behind Ocon owing to their respective grid positions in qualifying.

Hulkenberg's team-mate Kevin Magnussen also reported graining, but to a much lesser extent on his car, as he moved up to 11th over the course of the sprint.

Magnussen reckoned that he could have managed a top-eight finish with the pace he had behind the wheel of his VF-23.

"I had graining as well, but must have had less," explained the Dane. "They certainly do grain, the rear tyres especially, so it's a bit of knowledge for tomorrow and see if we can manage a bit better or maybe change the strategy but that's the stuff we'll be looking at now, with this data.

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"We haven't had a lot of data on tyres and sort of longer runs so far. So it's been a good session. I think our pace was good.

"Tomorrow I'm starting a little far down, because of the electrical issue in qualifying, but today the pace was good enough to fight for probably the top eight. Hopefully we can make it up there into the points tomorrow."

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