Hulkenberg impresses with ‘best of the rest’ at Monza

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Nico Hulkenberg gave his chances of securing a move to a top team a shot in the arm with a strong weekend at Monza.

The Sauber driver stunned the paddock on Saturday by qualifying third on the grid, ahead of the two Ferraris. Hulkenberg said the team “struggled a lot with the car” on Friday and praised their efforts in getting it on the pace.

“I hope the long run pace is good,” he mused ahead of the grand prix. Sauber have had difficulty getting their C32 to make its tyres last, but in the race Hulkenberg enjoyed one of the quickest cars at the end of a stint, particularly at the end of the race where he was catching Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber and Felipe Massa.

He finished the race in fifth having withstood pressure from Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes throughout.

Hulkenberg said it was “not realistic” that he would be able to finish ahead of the Red Bulls and Ferraris:

“I lost two places right at the start, but then the pace was good and, especially towards the end, I was able to catch up quite a bit again.”

“It’s a very nice result for the team, and finally we have some points again,” he said. “I hope this will give us some momentum, so we can carry this form on to the next couple of races.”

Hulkenberg’s result more than doubled his and Sauber’s points score so far, putting them on 17.

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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