Date: 19th March 2013 at 11:52am
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Nico Hulkenberg was forced to sit out the opening round of this seasons Formula One World Championship.

The former Force India driver who made the switch to Sauber over the winter had been looking forward to the season opener and had qualified 11th on the Melbourne grid following Sunday morning’s postponed qualifying session.

The German driver has never had much luck in Australia and has never finished a Grand Prix down under but at least in 2010 and 2012 he started the race in Albert Park, but on this occasion he couldn’t even do that!

A fuel system problem meant that he had to withdraw before the cars lined up on the grid and Hulkenberg was forced to watch on as the Formula One season started without him.

To compound his misery he had to then watch Adrian Sutil, who replaced him at Force India, enjoy an excellent drive which even had him leading the Grand Prix for a number of laps.

?I?m bitterly disappointed about what happened today, 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. It would have given me a lot of valuable data and information for the next races. Obviously, Melbourne is not a good place for me. 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.? Hulkenberg told

The Germans head of track engineering Tom McCullough said: ?Clearly disappointing that Nico was not able to start his first race for the Sauber F1 Team, due to a fuel system problem which didn?t allow us to make the grid.

While Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn added: ?This was not the way we expected the new Formula One season to start, particularly after things looked quite good in the free practice sessions. The problem with the fuel system was unlucky, particularly at this point in the race weekend. We are very sorry for Nico.