“We were tow buddies” - How Nico Hulkenberg helped Max Verstappen to pole at Imola

Nico Hulkenberg and Max Verstappen helped each other in qualifying for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Haas VF-24. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 7, Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Imola, Italy, Qualifying
Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Haas VF-24. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 7,…

Nico Hulkenberg revealed that he and Max Verstappen were working together by giving each other a tow in F1 qualifying for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Verstappen stormed to his eighth consecutive pole position, beating McLaren’s Oscar Piastri by just under a tenth of a second.

Onboard footage of his best lap in Q3 showed that he got a slipstream down into Turn 1 from Hulkenberg.

The time gained from that tow likely handed Verstappen pole ahead of Piastri, given he was two-tenths clear of the McLaren driver in the first sector alone.

Speaking to Sky Sports after qualifying, Hulkenberg said he decided to “return the favour” to Verstappen after the Dutchman helped him out in Q2.

“Max and I… we’ve been helping each other out this qualy,” he said. “He helped me a few times in Q2 and I returned the favour here.

“So yeah, you need support from colleagues sometimes don’t you?”

Giving his side of the story, Verstappen described the situation as “two buddies” conceding he did benefit from Hulkenberg’s tow down to Turn 1.

“We were tow buddies out there,” he added. “Q2 already and Q3. I gave him a two through 17 and he gave me a tow through Turn 1 and Turn 2. I think I did arrive a bit too quick for my liking, because I did miss Turn 2 a little bit.

“So I did gain, I did lose a bit in two. Overall I think it did help me a little bit. But when struggling all weekend you have to take all these little advantages to try and stay ahead.”

Hulkenberg stars again

It was another impressive display from the Audi-bound driver as Hulkenberg secured another top 10 start for Haas.

Ahead of qualifying, Hulkenberg admitted that the team felt P13 on the grid was the realistic goal.

“I did [enjoy it],” he explained. “Tricky old circuit. Challenging with the bumpiness, the wind, it really felt on the edge. It’s truly old school. I am not sure about racing tomorrow but let’s not worry about that now. Just to push yourself and then squeeze out the laps, it was pretty cool.

“To be honest we didn’t expect top 10 at all. Our predictions had us P13/P14 after FP3. It looked pretty grim to be honest. Even after my first run in Q1, I was back down in 20th, so last.

“I knew that wasn’t a clean run and I had to do some cleaning up to do. The second run was much better. Today, I had a few laps that I really hit beautifully and they just come on a string and perfect. I had a couple, unfortunately the one at the end in Q3, that didn’t go perfect. I put it down to the challenging conditions and it being a difficult track.”

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