Hulkenberg seeks Brazilian bounce back after recent rough run of races

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The opening 10 races of the 2014 Formula One season consistently saw Nico Hulkenberg in his Force India-Mercedes hassle the leaders and consistently bag mid-level points.

But the last seven have been a challenge, as Force India’s second half form has mirrored how it went last year, even though there hasn’t been a Pirelli tire specification change as there was in 2013.

In the first 10 races, Hulkenberg scored points in each – including six finishes of fifth or sixth – and scored 69 points.

In the last seven, Hulkenberg has only made it into the points on three occasions, and a single eighth, ninth and 10th have only added seven points to his tally. He now sits ninth in the driver’s championship after threatening the top five earlier this season.

Luckily for Hulkenberg, he comes to one of his best tracks this weekend at Interlagos, where he has finished eighth, fifth and eighth in three starts.

He scored a brilliantly judged pole – the first and thus far only one of his career – in mixed conditions in 2010 with Williams, and was poised to win or at least podium with Force India in 2012 before having contact with Lewis Hamilton. A year ago with Sauber, he came eighth.

After the tough run of results, including a mechanical failure to finish that capped off a disastrous double DNF for Force India at Austin (only the second race the team failed to score points all season), Hulkenberg looks for a rebound in Sao Paulo this weekend.

“Brazil is always a highlight of my season and it’s one of the events I enjoy the most,” he said in the team’s pre-race release. “If you look at my record at Interlagos, it’s a circuit where I have always performed well. I enjoy the country, the atmosphere, the Brazilian lifestyle and all that surrounds the event seems to have given me a special boost in the past and hopefully it will happen again.

“Obviously this is a new year and we will need to prepare for this event well: Interlagos can always throw a surprise with the conditions and this could be a challenge for which we need to be ready.”

Hulkenberg should be one to watch this weekend given his past form at the circuit. He’ll also have all the sessions in his car; teammate Sergio Perez is the one stepping aside to allow reserve driver Daniel Juncadella a go in FP1.

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.