Force India duo not too disheartened despite missing Q3

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Force India drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez are not too downbeat with their qualifying performances despite finishing in 11th and 12th in Spain today.

The team has made a remarkable start to the season, and currently lies third in the constructors’ championship ahead of Ferrari and McLaren. Perez produced a fine display in Bahrain to secure just the second podium finish in the history of the team, and Hulkenberg has scored points at every race so far.

Having performed so well this season, missing out on the top ten might seem like a poor result for the team, but both Hulkenberg and Perez said that they qualified around where they expected to.

“My lap was very good and I am pleased with the effort we put in during qualifying,” Hulkenberg explained. “We made some steps forward with handling and set-up compared to FP3 this morning, but we still ended up a little bit short of Q3.

“Considering that we haven’t been totally comfortable with the car for most of the weekend, P11 is a very good place to start the race and gives us an extra set of medium tires compared to the rest of the top ten.”

Perez explained how be bailed on his final flying lap because of traffic, but he is not too disappointed with 12th place given that the track is not suited to the VJM07 car.

“I think we finished qualifying more or less where we expected,” the Mexican said. “Maybe a place in Q3 was possible, but I did not manage to complete my final run in Q2 because my preparation lap was not ideal. There was too much traffic and my tires were not optimised, which is why I chose to abort my final quick lap and save the tires.

“Coming here we knew this track would be quite a difficult one for us, but we still believe we can be competitive tomorrow.”

The team will be hoping that its drivers can make up some positions during the race tomorrow to continue its point scoring streak in 2014. However, this might be easier said than done given the gains that McLaren and Lotus appear to have made.

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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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.