Hulkenberg: Le Mans entry ‘completely different’ to Alonso’s Indy shot

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Nico Hulkenberg is surprised by Fernando Alonso’s decision to skip the Monaco Grand Prix so he can enter the 101st Indianapolis 500 next month, believing it is “completely different” to his own shot at Le Mans two years ago.

Alonso announced on Wednesday that he would be racing in this year’s Indy 500, bailing on the Formula 1 race in Monaco so he can pilot the McLaren-Honda-Andretti entry at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Hulkenberg was the last F1 driver to cross codes, entering the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Porsche in 2015 as part of its third-car line-up in the LMP1 class.

Alongside Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber, Hulkenberg claimed an unlikely victory in the 24-hour race, becoming the first current F1 driver to win at Le Mans since 1991.

Comparisons have been drawn following Alonso’s announcement, but Hulkenberg said it was different as his Porsche duties never impacted on his work in F1 with Force India.

“My case was completely different. I didn’t go away from F1 in the way he is,” Hulkenberg said on Thursday in Bahrain, as quoted by crash.net.

“I would have never done it if I had to miss a race for it, especially Monaco. A big decision and big news obviously and he can do what he wants.

“I am a bit surprised like everybody about this situation.”

Hulkenberg also said that Alonso’s run in the ‘500 will be a challenge given he will have just 10 days of running prior to the race to get to grips with the new style of car he will be racing.

“I think it is quite tough. I don’t know much about Indy but he has never driven these cars or an oval, so do you think you can come in and win that easily?” Hulkenberg questioned.

“I at least had half a year practice [for Le Mans]. It sounds like a challenge but obviously Fernando likes challenges.”

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.