Through no fault of his own, Nico Hulkenberg lost another potential points finish.
After an impressive qualifying performance yesterday, during which Hulkenberg put his car sixth on the grid, and a calculated run in the first stint of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the Sauber driver was stuck in the train of cars behind Adrian Sutil late in the second stint. The German pitted to get into some clean air, and would have most likely undercut Lewis Hamilton, but was released unsafely by his team into the path of Sergio Perez of Mclaren.
Hulkenberg was given a drive-through penalty soon afterwards, ending any chances he had of a points finish. This comes after a brake system failure for the German in the Indian Grand Prix. Hulkenberg was set for a seventh, and potentially sixth, place finish at that race when bad luck struck.
After his penalty, Hulkenberg was unable to get around the traffic in the lower midfield. He was eventually lapped by race winner Sebastian Vettel in the dying laps of the race, and came home only 14th.
These two results come after an impressive run of results starting at the Italian Grand Prix. Hulkenberg finished fifth there (after having qualified third), ninth in Singapore, fourth in Korea, and sixth in Japan.
The good news, though, is that Lotus has finally completed their commercial deal with Quantum Motorsports, a deal said to provide financial security for at least five years, as the team aims to become a championship winning team once again. This also means the team has the freedom to sign whoever they want to the team in 2014, after Kimi Raikkonen signed for Ferrari early this fall. Lotus team principal, Eric Boullier, has said publicly on many occasions that he desperately wants to sign Hulkenberg to the team in 2014, so this deal could’t have come at a better time.
Hulkenberg’s results in the last two races do not speak to the overall surprise of his season in 2013. The young German has impressed hugely in what was initially an extremely uncompetitive car.
Stay tuned in the coming days for an announcement from Lotus regarding their 2014 driver lineup.