Being unable to field Nico Hulkenberg
in the first Grand Prix of the 2013 F1 season on Sunday was a bitter blow for the Sauber team, after a fuel system issue with his new C32 left the German driver unable to take up his 11th place spot on the starting grid in Melbourne for the start of the Australian Grand Prix.
"I'm bitterly disappointed about what happened today," said Hulkenberg. "But at the same time I'm not blaming anyone. Things like this happen in racing.
"What is particularly bothering me is the fact that I lost all this mileage today, which is so important particularly at the beginning of the season," he pointed out.
"This was not the way we expected the new F1 season to start," said Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn. "The problem with the fuel system was unlucky, particularly at this point in the race weekend. We are very sorry for Nico."
Hulkenberg with philosophical about yet another Australian Grand Prix
not going according to plan for him.
"Obviously, Melbourne is not a good place for me," he sighed. "It was my third Grand Prix here and the third time that I leave this place empty handed. The only good thing is that the next race takes place next weekend."
That left the team's rookie driver Esteban Gutierrez as the team's only representative at Albert Park
on race day, starting from 18th on the grid after suffering a nasty accident at the end of Saturday's rain-hit Q1 qualifying session.
"I want to thank the whole team, because yesterday in qualifying we had a good chance and today we were able to recover some of what we lost yesterday," he young Mexican driver said.
"My main goal was to finish the race, and to achieve that is really enjoyable," he continued. "We have a good base and in the future we will try and push forward."
"Esteban drove a solid first race," Kaltenborn said, while lamenting that the grid position had been just too much for Gutierrez to have a realistic chance to overcome in the race, which saw him finish outside the points in 13th place, a lap off the leaders.
"Starting from P18 was too much of a handicap for him," agreed Kaltenborn. "I'm confident we will solve the problems we had and that we will be in better shape in Malaysia.