Andretti Autosport goes 0-for-Fast Six for first time in 2013

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Here’s one for you: name the last race before the Honda Indy Toronto race one where all of Andretti Autosport’s cars missed the Firestone Fast Six.

If you guessed any race this year, you’re wrong. The last time the last round of IZOD IndyCar Series qualified didn’t have any of the fearsome foursome, Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe, Marco Andretti or E.J. Viso, was Sonoma in 2012.

Hunter-Reay will start sixth as a result of James Jakes’ engine change penalty, but had his charge on Friday halted again, ironically, by Takuma Sato. Sato contacted “RHR” in the pits last week at Pocono, costing the defending series and race champion pivotal points. Friday, during Q2 of IndyCar’s knockout qualifying, Sato’s contact with the Turn 1 wall cost Hunter-Reay the chance to improve his fastest lap.

“It’s frustrating. We had a great car today; we led the first practice,” said Hunter-Reay. “I’d like to thank the guys, the crew on the No. 1 DHL team for giving me a great car. I’d like to thank (Takuma) Sato for knocking us out of the session again today. It’s unfortunate, but we’ll be fighting again tomorrow, we’ll be fighting again on Sunday.”

Andretti will start 10th, while Hinchcliffe and Viso failed to advance out of Q1 and will start alongside each other on Row 7.

“You always want to do your laps in the end, but I’m sure I’m in the same boat as everyone else, so I can’t use that final red flag as an excuse,” said an introspective Andretti. “We tried something for the second qualifying round that didn’t really help, so it’s a bummer for the Dr Pepper crew.

“I think the race tomorrow will come down to attrition,” he added. “Mistakes will be made during the race, but hopefully not from us. Hopefully there isn’t too much carnage, but there might be with the first standing starts. I think the fans are going to be in for a good show.”

F1 2017 driver review: Nico Hulkenberg

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Nico Hulkenberg

Team: Renault
Car No.: 27
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P6 (Spain, Great Britain, Belgium, Abu Dhabi)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 43
Championship Position: 10th

Expectations were hard to peg for Renault heading into its second full season back in F1 with a factory team, but Nico Hulkenberg was surely expected to be the man spearheading its charge.

With teammate Jolyon Palmer severely underperforming, Hulkenberg did exactly that, bringing home all but 14 of the team’s points in the final standings. However, consistency was never something he truly found.

Many of Renault’s issues were down to reliability issues, sidelining Hulkenberg for six races – four coming in a five-race stint from Singapore to Mexico – yet he only scored points in consecutive races on three occasions.

When Hulkenberg and Renault were on form, they proved to be a potent combination, often topping the midfield fight and even looking faster than Force India come the end of the season. His run to sixth at the final race in Abu Dhabi was crucial for the constructors’ championship as Renault jumped Toro Rosso, securing an extra slice of prize money in the process.

But for a driver who was so often tipped as being a future star in F1, Hulkenberg still has a lot to prove. Renault is set to offer a good platform for the German moving forward with factory support, yet if he cannot beat new teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. through 2018, concerns will surely be raised.

Season High: Charging to sixth in Abu Dhabi despite a penalty.

Season Low: A tough run to 16th in Malaysia.