An elated Nico Hulkenberg has heralded his charge to fourth in the Korean Grand Prix as one of the best drives of his career so far, equalling his best-ever result in a grand prix as well as claiming Sauber’s best result of the season.
Having started seventh, Hulkenberg made a good start to lie fifth and lead a train of cars including Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen and Mark Webber. Despite their best efforts, the German driver remained ahead until after the second safety car period. On the restart, he made good use of the Sauber’s strong straight line speed to overtake fourth-placed Lewis Hamilton before defending valiantly from the Mercedes in the eighteen laps that followed.
“Today I drove one of the best races in my career so far,” Hulkenberg said. “I have had cars in the mirrors before, but today there were a lot and it was a bit annoying. Lewis really put the pressure on at the end, especially in the last sector. I knew I needed to get out of turn one well. The car’s traction was very good today, so that kept me alive against Fernando and then Lewis later on.”
Sauber have endured a difficult season amid financial uncertainty, and team principal Monisha Kaltenborn made no secret of her happiness following the race.
“We went into the race with high expectations and it is a great feeling that we were able to meet these through our own strengths,” she said. “Nico put in a superb performance and, once again, great fight, as it definitely was not easy to keep those cars behind him.”
Esteban Gutierrez also equalled his best-ever result in Formula One down in eleventh, capping off a good weekend for the team.
With six races to go and with sixty points in hand, Sebastian Vettel appears to be counting down the races until he is crowned world champion for a fourth time. Not only has he won the last three races with relative ease, but the German driver also has an imperious record in Korea. In the three grands prix held at the Korean International Circuit, Vettel has won twice and led 93% of the laps, with an engine failure costing him a third win in the inaugural race back in 2010. However, memories of his retirement still stay fresh in the memory heading into the race, with Mercedes and Ferrari banking on a repeat in 2013 if they are to put up a fight to Red Bull on Sunday.
As well as watching the Korean Grand Prix on NBCSN from 1:30am ET, you can catch the live coverage via NBC Sports Live Extra on your phone or tablet.
Customers with participating cable, satellite and telco TV providers can access the free service, which provides streaming coverage of all live NBC Sports events on both NBC and NBCSN through NBCSports.com/LiveExtra and the NBC Sports Live Extra app for iOS and select Android devices (available for purchase at the App Store and Google Play).
Formula One races are part of the programming shown on NBC Sports Live Extra, which also features the rest of NBCSN’s live-event roster: The IZOD IndyCar Series, the National Hockey League, the English Premier League, Major League Soccer, horse racing’s Triple Crown, and more.
You can also follow the Korean Grand Prix live via the @F1onNBCSports Twitter account, which will be providing commentary throughout the race.
Finally, be sure to visit MotorSportsTalk throughout the weekend for all of the latest news and updates from the Korean Grand Prix.
Sauber have enjoyed their best qualifying result of the season as both Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez made it through to Q3, securing top ten grid positions for tomorrow’s Korean Grand Prix.
Gutierrez may have failed to score a point during his rookie season, but the Mexican driver proved in Singapore that he has great potential after qualifying tenth and running in P7 for a large part of the race before falling back in the final stages of the grand prix. In Korea, he has impressed once again in qualifying, comfortably getting through Q1 before scraping into Q3 and going on to finish ninth.
“I’ve improved my qualifying and once you have both cars working on a similar level you can push yourself a lot more,” Gutierrez said. “This is the first time I have driven here, so it is great to achieve a result like that. It is now the second time in a row I have been able to put in a good qualifying performance and that is a good feeling, because I have worked a lot to improve.”
Nico Hulkenberg qualified one place ahead of his teammate, and both drivers are set to move up one place on the grid thanks to Mark Webber’s ten place grid penalty.
“Today went really well,” Hulkenberg said. “Q1 and Q2 were like clockwork and my lap in Q3 was good too, but somehow it was more difficult, I was four tenths down on my Q2 time and the grip was not the same as in the previous session. To start P7 tomorrow is very positive and we can look forward to the race.”
Thanks to Russian investment, the team’s future has been secured with an extension of their engine deal with Ferrari being confirmed for 2014.
Jules Bianchi has been hit with a three place grid penalty and a reprimand after he was adjudged to have held up Paul di Resta during the first part of qualifying for the Korean Grand Prix today.
Although di Resta did manage to make it through to Q2, the Scot was still incredibly upset about the incident that meant he could not improve his time with his final lap of the session, putting him at risk of being eliminated in Q1 for the second race in succession. Bianchi was sure after qualifying that he had not hindered the Force India driver in any way, but the stewards in Korea have decided to hit the Frenchman with a penalty and a reprimand.
“The driver of car number 22 [Bianchi] (on an out lap) was given a radio warning of the approach of car number 14 [di Resta] (on a fast lap) but decided to stay on line to start his own flying lap,” a statement from the stewards reads.
“The stewards consider that car number 22 could have safely allowed car number 14 to pass before starting his flying lap.”
Bianchi had qualified on the back row of the grid in twenty-first position, meaning that this penalty will see him drop one place behind teammate Max Chilton. This is also Bianchi’s second reprimand of the season, meaning that he will be subject to a ten place grid penalty should he pick up another sanction in the remaining six rounds of the season.
After qualifying in third place for the Korean Grand Prix on Saturday, Mark Webber is set to start the race from thirteenth on the grid following his penalty in Singapore last time out.
Webber was reprimanded after the race at the Marina Bay Street Circuit following an incident after the race that saw him dangerously flag down Fernando Alonso in order to get a lift back to the pits. As this was his third reprimand of the season, Webber was subject to an automatic ten-place grid penalty that will come into effect for the race tomorrow. Having made his opinion on the penalty known last week, Webber is feeling optimistic about his chances in Korea despite the setback.
“I’m pretty happy, I could be two positions further up but that would mean, with the penalty, I would be eleventh rather than thirteenth,” Webber said. “It was a pretty tight qualifying with the two Mercedes, Seb and myself. Tomorrow’s race will be interesting, I will be out of position, but we’ll fight and come back through.”
Webber’s car had been set up to favor his race pace as he looks to scythe through the field and reach the podium in Korea for the third consecutive year in what will be his final grand prix at the circuit in Yeongam.