Hulkenberg readies for his first F1 race at familiar Nurburgring

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Coming off of his first points-paying finish in over two months at Sunday’s British Grand Prix, Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg is now preparing for a challenge he has never faced: Racing a Formula One car at the Nurburgring, site of this coming weekend’s German Grand Prix.

While “The Hulk” has been part of the F1 paddock for the last four seasons – three in a race seat, one in a reserve capacity – he’s only competed in his home event when it’s been at Hockenheim, which has alternated the event yearly with Nurburgring since 2007. The last time F1 visited the latter facility came two years ago, when Hulkenberg was in a test driver role at Force India.

But Hulkenberg does have plenty of experience in other categories at Nurburgring. In fact, he was quite successful there while heading down the road to F1, winning in multiple feeder categories such as the Formula 3 Euro Series and GP2.

Obviously, those series are quite different from F1 but track knowledge is track knowledge, and it has Hulkenberg confident that he can enjoy a productive weekend on home ground.

“The Nurburgring is another traditional track with a lot of changes in altitude and good combinations, which makes it a lot of fun to drive,” he said. “Of course, the fans will play a big part and I am looking forward to taking to the track in front of a home crowd.

“Although this is my third [racing] season, I have never raced at the Nurburgring in a Formula One car, so this is a first for me. Overall, however, I know what to expect. I guess everything will be a bit faster and I might perceive things a little different, but I know the track well and I am looking forward to a nice weekend.”

With only six points overall this season – all from Hulkenberg – the Sauber team is likely hoping for that as well.

You can watch the German Grand Prix this Sunday morning at 7:30 a.m. ET on CNBC, as well as on your online and mobile devices with NBC Sports Live Extra.

Ferrari signs Callum Ilott to young driver academy

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Ferrari has confirmed the signing of rising British racer Callum Ilott to its prestigious driver academy ahead of the 2018 season.

Ilott, 18, is a former member of Red Bull’s junior program, and has spent the last three years racing in the FIA European Formula 3 series, taking eight race wins.

After finishing the 2017 season fourth in the championship with Prema Powerteam, Ilott has now linked up with the Ferrari Driver Academy in the next step of his racing career, becoming its first British member.

“Ferrari Driver Academy is pleased to announce that British driver Callum Ilott is the latest promising young driver to be selected for its development program,” an announcement from Ferrari reads.

“18 years old, Ilott joins the FDA in his third season in car racing, having just finished the FIA F3 European Championship. He comes with a strong pedigree in international Formula 3 racing, having made the jump directly from karting as reigning European Champion.

“Ilott joins Charles Leclerc, Antonio Fuoco, Guan Yu Zhou, Giuliano Alesi, Marcus Armstrong and Enzo Fittipaldi in the programme, which supports talented young drivers on their career path in motorsport.”

Besides its existing roster, the Ferrari Driver Academy also played a part in the careers of Sergio Perez, Lance Stroll and the late Jules Bianchi.