Nico Hulkenberg shrugged off a terse interchange with his Force India race engineer in which he was told to “shut up” during qualifying for Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix.
German driver Hulkenberg said it was a “misunderstanding” after the engineer Bradley Joyce was heard to react aggressively to a suggestion that his driver was only on a warm-up lap.
The conversation was broadcast on the team radio to a live global television audience.
When Hulkenberg was told that Valtteri Bottas of Williams was 2.5 seconds behind him, he said: “So, I’ll have to let him past then if he’s pushing now.”
But Joyce replied: “No. You won’t. You’re pushing. You’re pushing!
“Do not do that. Do not do that! You’re pushing! We’re on a timed lap now, Nico.”
Hulkenberg then said: “Warm-up lap?”
Joyce replied, shouting: “Shut up! It’s not a warm-up lap. It’s a timed lap. Bottas is on a warm-up lap behind you.
“I’ll tell you where the traffic is. You concentrate on driving.”
After the session was over, and Hulkenberg had qualified 10th behind his Force India team-mate local hero Sergio Perez, he said: “There was a bit of confusion.
“I need to talk to the engineers because I couldn’t understand what was going on.”
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