Hulkenberg: 2014 start has “probably gone better than we were expecting”

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A solid start to the 2014 Formula One World Championship has Sahara Force India heading toward surpassing its overall points total from last year.

In 2013, Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil netted 77 points and a sixth-place result in the Constructors’ Championship for the Silverstone squad.

But in just four races in 2014, Force India’s new pairing of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez have already bagged 54 points and the team’s currently third in the Constructors’ – and smack in the middle of a tight battle between themselves, Red Bull, Ferrari, and McLaren for “best of the rest” status behind Mercedes.

Perez has the team’s lone podium of the year at Bahrain, but Hulkenberg’s been the more consistent of the duo. He’s one of just four competitors to score points in every race with results of sixth, fifth, fifth, and sixth to his credit.

Going into this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix (Sun., 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra), Hulkenberg indicated that he and his team’s consistent run to open the calendar may have been more than he’d initially hoped for.

“I’ve enjoyed the first part of the year,” he said. “It’s probably gone better than we were expecting after winter testing and it’s good to keep picking up the points.

“I’m fourth [in the Drivers’ Championship] with 36 points and I think that’s a big achievement. The car has worked well everywhere and we’ve made the most of the opportunities. Consistency is surely one of our strengths at the moment.”

But the development beat always goes on in Formula One, and Hulkenberg knows that his team can not let up on that front as the European rounds get underway.

“We’re up in third in the [Constructors’] championship and we want to stay there,” he said. “The hard work over the winter is paying off, but we know that Formula One is always a development race and things can change from one weekend to the next. So we need to keep working hard to maintain our good position.”

As for his boss, Vijay Mallya, he is “optimistic” that the consistency from his team will continue.

“China has never been an especially strong track for us, so to come away with ten points was a very good effort,” he said. “We also expect our car to perform better in warmer conditions and there are some upcoming races that will play more to our strengths.”

Video highlights from Stage 12 of Dakar Rally, 2 stages remain

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Thursday’s Stage 12 of the 40th Dakar Rally not only closed the overall standings gap in at least two classes (cars and trucks), two other classes (bikes and quads) failed to get going due to weather conditions.

The full video highlights of Stage 12 will air on NBCSN on Friday at 7 pm ET, but here are some of the highlights from Thursday’s action:

CARS

2018 Dakar Rally: Nasser Al-Attiyah wins Stage 12 of cars

BIKES

 Stage 12 cancelled due to weather conditions

 

TRUCKS

Ton van Genugten edged out Martin Kolomy in Stage of, while Federico Villagra and Eduard Nikolaev both faced an uphill battle to finish fourth and third respectively.

QUADS

Even though the Quads were also impacted by weather issues on Thursday, Ignacio Casale, the 2014 Dakar winner, continues to make his case for a second overall victory in the quads.