Nico Hulkenberg believes that Sergey Sirotkin will face a baptism of fire when he enters Formula One next season as the Russian driver begins to prepare for life with Sauber.
Sirotkin is poised to become the youngest F1 driver of all time if he makes the step up next season, with his promotion being part of the financial package that has secured Sauber’s future in the sport. At just seventeen, many believe that he is too young to be driving at such a high level, and Hulkenberg believes that he will face a tough start next season.
“I think for him it’s going to be tough,” the German driver explained. “Of course, if you jump from World Series to Formula One, then that is a big jump. For sure, he will need some time to acclimatize and get used how everything is working here, but it’s not much to do with me to be honest.”
Regarding his own future, Hulkenberg admitted that he is yet to make a decision for next season, but he is keen on securing a seat by the end of next month.
“I want to make a decision when I feel that I’ve made the right choice and when I’m comfortable with everything including involving the team. We would ideally like to have it done by September, end of September.”
Sirotkin’s arrival at the team would be dependent on him securing a superlicence that allows drivers to race in F1. However, relying he meets all of the necessary requirements, it is possible that Hulkenberg may be dropped by Sauber in favor of the finance that both Sirotkin and Esteban Gutierrez can bring to the team.
With Felipe Massa’s contract expiring at the end of the season, the German driver has been linked to Ferrari, but it remains to be seen just where Hulkenberg will end up come the beginning of next year.
We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.
And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.
After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.
In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.
Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.
“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.
“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.
“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”
Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.
“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”
Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.