Two-stop strategy allows Hulkenberg to finish fifth

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Nico Hulkenberg has heaped praise upon his team after an inspired two-stop strategy allowed him to finish today’s Malaysian Grand Prix in fifth place.

The Force India driver had qualified seventh in the wet session yesterday, but he did not appear to have the pace to build upon this result during the race on Sunday. A good start saw him move up to fifth ahead of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen, but Alonso soon demoted the German down to sixth. By going longer on his tires, Hulkenberg managed to stop just twice whilst every other driver made three changes, allowing him to move up the order and finish the race in fifth place.

“Today was a super team effort and I’m very happy with fifth place,” he explained. “We were the only team among the front-runners to do a two-stop race and we had good pace all afternoon. It shows that the team’s hard work over the winter is paying off and it feels great to be so competitive and fighting up at the front.”

The Malaysian Grand Prix is traditionally tough on tires due to the extreme heat, but Hulkenberg – who returns to Force India in 2014 after missing out on a move to Ferrari and Lotus – managed his well. He is now hoping to carry this form over to the next round in Bahrain, which is live on NBCSN next weekend.

“We showed that we could manage the tyres well, although I felt a bit more comfortable on the medium compound tyres than on the hards, but we always had the tyre management under control,” Hulkenberg explained. “So I’m feeling happy that we can take all these positives to Bahrain and leave Malaysia with a good helping of points.”

His teammate, Sergio Perez, suffered from a gearbox problem on his installation lap, meaning that he could not start the race at all on Sunday.

Power, Newgarden, Dixon fastest in first of 2 IndyCar practices today at Barber Motorsports Park

Photo: IndyCar
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Will Power was fastest in Friday’s first of two IndyCar practice sessions at Barber Motorsports Park.

Power covered the 2.3-mile permanent road course in 1:07.5987 minutes at 122.488 mph in the 45-minute practice session.

Even though he spun off the course during his session, Phoenix winner Josef Newgarden still managed to be second-fastest (121.919 mph at 1:07.9141 minutes), followed by Scott Dixon (121.296 mph/1:082627), Max Chilton (121.251 mph/1:08.2882) and Ed Jones (121.215 mph/1:09.5692).

 

Sixth through 10th were Simon Pagenaud (121.208 mph/1:08.3122), Jordan King (121.113 mph/1:083661), Graham Rahal (121.059 mph/1:08.3964), St. Petersburg winner Sebastien Bourdais (121.029 mph/1:08.4131) and rookie Zach Veach (121.014 mph/1:08.4216).

Here’s the full speed chart:

Incidents:

* Early in the session, Long Beach winner Alexander Rossi ran off the track and into the grass, striking a small sign, but was able to get back on-track. However, Rossi was only able to complete 10 laps, relegating him to 20th-fastest in the 23-car field.

* Moments later, it appeared the rear brakes locked up on Newgarden heading into Turn 5, spinning him into the gravel trap. He was able to get going and returned to the pits for service and was back on-track with less than four minutes remaining in the session.

ALSO OF NOTE:

* The second practice session of the day will begin at 3:50 p.m. ET. A third practice will take part Saturday morning at 10:50 a.m. ET, followed by qualifying beginning at 4:05 p.m. ET. The race, to be televised live Sunday on NBCSN, is slated to start at 3:30 p.m. ET.

* However, weather forecast does not look promising for Sunday’s race. As of 1 p.m. ET today, the forecast calls for 100 percent rain throughout the day.

* Dixon has had an incredible record at Barber Motorsports Park, with seven podium finishes in eight starts there. Except for one thing: he has yet to win a race there. But he does have five runner-up and two other third-place showings on the permanent road course.

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