Alonso heaps praise on Hulkenberg

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Fernando Alonso tipped his hat to Nico Hulkenberg after the Sauber driver claimed a season-best fourth place in the Korean Grand Prix.

Hulkenberg kept the Ferrari driver at bay in the opening stages of the race, then passed Lewis Hamilton after a Safety Car restart and held the Mercedes driver back as well.

Alonso praised Hulkenberg’s “superb” performance, saying: “He is driving very, very well and he deserved to be in front of us because he did a fantastic race.”

Sauber are enjoying a strong second half of the year, thanks in part to the change in tyre compounds at the Hungarian Grand Prix which coincided with the introduction of a revised aerodynamic package for the C32.

Hulkenberg put the car third on the grid in Italy and finished the race fifth. He went one better in Korea, where the team reintroduced an old rear wing which had previously been discarded, and found it was now giving much better performance.

Hulkenberg said his Korean Grand Prix drive was one of the best of his career.

He has scored all of Sauber’s points this year and his latest result means he has single-handedly moved them into seventh in the constructors’ championship, tied with Toro Rosso on 31 points, and ahead by dint of Hulkenberg’s fourth place finish.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.