A1 Team Germany has been knocked off the top of the A1GP standings after a gearbox issue cost Nico Hulkenberg a second win of the season in Beijing.

Hulkenberg, who won the first feature race of the season at Zandvoort, was unable to make any progress from his fifth place starting position during the sprint race as the field took things easy on the trick street circuit - which had been blighted with problems since the opening practice session on Friday when the hairpin at the end of the lap was found to be too tight for the A1GP machines.

In the feature race, Hulkenberg was able to make up positions early on when Team Mexico hit problems and then Team Italy was delayed in the pits and was holding second place behind Team Netherlands in the closing stages of the race. With Mexican Salvador Duran having retired from the race, Hulkenberg looked set to take Germany back to the top of the standings - and a second win looked on the cards when Jeroen Bleekemolen spun out of the lead.

However, before he had chance to get round to the start of the next lap, a gearbox failure forced Hulkenberg to retire, leaving the 19-year-old to watch on as Italian claimed a maiden A1GP win.

"We could have taken our second win today after having won the opening round in Zandvoort," he said. "Unfortunately, technology prevented such a result, since the gearshift paddle didn't work on the down change and the car was stuck in fifth gear. It goes without saying that I'm extremely disappointed about this.

"We could have increased our championship lead in China, but we are now only second. However, after only three from twelve races the title race is still wide open. We have to get over this setback. At the next race in Malaysia we can fight to get back to the top of the standings. And this is precisely our intention."

Team principal Willi Weber was disappointed to see Hulkenberg halted by a technical glitch, but said the pace displayed during the course of the weekend was an indication of the talent of his driver.

"Even under the toughest of conditions with very little testing time and, as a result, extremely unfavourable circumstances the team and Nico Hulkenberg demonstrated just what they are capable of," he said. "They were a mere ten laps away from A1 Team Germany's second victory of the season, when technology intervened. It is very disappointing, particularly as it was the first defect of a previously very reliable car. Nevertheless, we won't let this distract us. A1 Team Germany numbers among the top teams in the A1 Grand Prix series this year. We have the opportunity again in a fortnight to turn the tide for our benefit."

 

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