Hulkenberg bothered by fuel system failure

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Nico Hulkenberg has made no secret of his frustration after he was withdrawn from the Australian Grand Prix on safety grounds following a fuel pump failure.

“I’m bitterly disappointed about what happened today, but at the same time I’m not blaming anyone. Things like this happen in racing. What is particularly bothering me is the fact that I lost all this mileage today, which is so important particularly at the beginning of the season.”

Hulkenberg had qualified in 11th place for the race, and he was well poised to score points for the first time in Australia. However, Sauber confirmed just before the race that the German driver would not be lining up on the grid, thus continuing his rotten form at Albert Park.

“Melbourne is not a good place for me. It was my third Grand Prix here and the third time that I leave this place empty handed. The only good thing is that the next race takes place next weekend.”

Sauber’s remaining driver, Esteban Gutierrez, impressed on debut by finishing in thirteenth place ahead of fellow rookie Valtteri Bottas. The Mexican driver was pleased with his race, and he believes that the foundations have been laid for a good season.

“I want to thank the whole team, because yesterday in qualifying we had a good chance and today we were able to recover some of what we lost yesterday. We have a good base and in the future we will try and push forward.”

Hulkenberg will be hoping for better luck in Malaysia as he looks to impress both his new team and the teams further up the grid. Many pundits believe he could be approached by either Red Bull or Ferrari at the end of the season, so a good start to the year will be crucial.

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Andretti Autosport picks James Hinchcliffe for last 3 races of season

Andretti Autosport James Hinchcliffe
Chris Owens/IndyCar
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James Hinchcliffe will finish the NTT IndyCar Series season for Andretti Autosport, replacing Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda.

The team made the announcement Friday afternoon that Hinchcliffe will return after racing for Andretti at Texas Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Indianapolis 500.

Hinchcliffe, who also has worked as an IndyCar on NBC analyst and pit reporter, will race in the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

“It’s always unfortunate to have to change drivers this far into a season, but we have to look at finishing the year the best we can for the 26 team and start evaluating and looking at options for 2021,” team owner Michael Andretti said in a release. “James has an existing relationship with our team that we’d love to build on and it makes the most sense for him to step in for these last three races. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

Hinchcliffe has a season-best finish of seventh in the Indy 500. He had been working on trying to put together a deal for next season after scrambling to secure a partial schedule this year when he lost his ride at Arrow McLaren SP after 2020 with a year left on his deal.

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“I know, probably better than most, what Zach is feeling right now, and I have to say that he has handled everything about as class act as you can,” Hinchcliffe said. “I’ve known Zach as a teammate, before that as a colleague and even before that as a friend, and he is a guy that I respect in every way. I know he is a fighter and will fight back to where he wants to be.

“For me now, my focus is 100% on racing the Harvest GP and getting the best possible results for Gainbridge, for Honda, for Michael and for the team. I obviously haven’t been on a road course in a while, but at least the last time I was, it was here at IMS! Hopefully that puts us in a good position to go out there and have a strong weekend.”