Nico Hulkenberg feeling positive ahead of Monaco GP

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Nico Hulkenberg may not have started the season as he would have liked, scoring just five points from the first five races, but the German driver is feeling positive ahead of next weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.

“In terms of performance, I’m quite positive. We’ve seen that the softer tire compounds suit us quite well, which gives me confidence we’ll have a good weekend,” he said in a team statement.

Sauber has struggled to replicate its 2012 form so far this season. By Monaco last year, the Swiss team had scored 41 points and lay 7th in the constructors’ championship, whereas 2013 has yielded just 5 points in total, but the team is only one position down on 2012. Regardless, it is not the start Hulkenberg may have envisaged, especially after having been linked to Red Bull for 2014.

The German driver is however looking forward to racing at Monaco, with the race being among his favorites.

“I’m really looking forward to the Monaco Grand Prix. The circuit along with the backdrop of the principality are just fantastic, and the atmosphere is one of the best in the season.

“The track is one of a kind with extremely narrow streets that will punish every little mistake. This is a great challenge between me, the car and the track, and I always have a lot of fun driving there.”

In Formula One, Hulkenberg has a mixed record in Monaco. In 2010, he retired early on after a front-wing failure caused him to crash in the tunnel. Last season, when driving for Force India, he impressed many on his way to P8, setting the second-fastest lap of the race. A similar result would be well-received by all at Hinwil, although they will also be keen on Esteban Gutierrez scoring his first points of the season.

F1 2017 driver review: Sergio Perez

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Sergio Perez

Team: Sahara Force India
Car No.: 11
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P4 (Spain)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 1
Points: 100
Championship Position: 7th

While failing to hit the podium as he did in both 2015 and 2016, Sergio Perez once again finished the year as Formula 1’s leading midfield team driver, but faced a greater fight from within Force India in the shape of Esteban Ocon.

Perez has long been knocking on the door of F1’s top teams should an opportunity come up, and 2017 saw him continue his solid if unspectacular form. The dominance of Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari meant any finish higher than seventh was impressive, something he managed to do on five occasions.

But there were some missed opportunities along the way, most significantly in Baku. Force India had been quick all weekend, with Perez charging to sixth on the grid, and when drama struck at the front, he and teammate Ocon were eyeing a podium finish as a minimum.

Contact between the two forced Perez to retire and prompted Ocon to pit for repairs, leaving the team without the top-three finish it targeted heading into the season. With Lance Stroll taking P3 for Williams and Daniel Ricciardo winning the race, a maiden victory for Force India was not out of the realm of imagination.

Perez and Ocon came to blows on a number of occasions, with the final straw coming in Spa when they twice touched on-track, prompting Force India to introduce team orders. Perez finished the year 13 points clear of Ocon in the final standings, meeting his own pre-season target of 100 points, yet the Frenchman had arguably made the bigger impression at Force India through his first full season in F1.

Force India remains the top underdog in F1 with Perez spearheading its charge, but it is difficult to see either taking the final step to becoming true contenders at the front of the field anytime soon, as solid as their displays have been.

Season High: P4 in Spain after retirements for the ‘big three’.

Season Low: Losing a sure-fire podium, if not a win, in Baku after contact with Ocon.