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.