Nico Hulkenberg continues to ride the crest of a wave following his excellent performance at last weekend’s Korean Grand Prix where he managed to equal his career-best finish by coming fourth ahead of both Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.
With the car failing to live up to expectations and Sauber being blighted by financial difficulties, Hulkenberg has had a tough season. However, he appears to be enjoying an upturn in fortunes heading into this weekend’s race at Suzuka in Japan, and he attributed this resurgence to the improved pace of the car.
“I certainly haven’t changed,” Hulkenberg said on Thursday in Japan. “I think the car. Of course we’ve put on some updates: a big one in Budapest – which we now understand better and better – and then some small bits and bobs. I think the tires did the rest.”
Hulkenberg went on to thank his team for such a good performance in Korea where he managed to hold off Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber and Kimi Raikkonen throughout the race despite the drivers having quicker cars and four world titles between them.
“What we did in Korea I think was outstanding,” he said. “I’m really happy and proud about that but we probably punched above our weight there and out-performed a few cars which we shouldn’t do. But there was this opportunity and we grabbed it. So that was very good.”
Following Hulkenberg’s twelve-point haul in Korea, Sauber are now tied with Toro Rosso on thirty-one points for seventh place in the constructors’ championship.
Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.
Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.