Hulkenberg seeks end of tailspin, Ricciardo seeks BBQ after clash in Austin

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AUSTIN, Texas – “An Australian and a German walk into a Texas barbecue joint, sort out their issues and enjoy some delicious red meat.”

OK this isn’t reality but if ever there was a time, place or reason for Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg to get together and discuss in person their contact that happened during today’s United States Grand Prix, perhaps the legendary Salt Lick or Rudy’s in Austin would serve as a perfect venue.

Ricciardo and Hulkenberg’s races – which were both promising – came to a halt on Lap 36 when Hulkenberg and Ricciardo collided battling over fifth place at Turn 12.

After starting third, Ricciardo actually led seven laps from Laps 15 to 21, having got around Lewis Hamilton at one point. Hulkenberg ran as high as sixth in the opening laps.

It appeared as though Hulkenberg’s front wing was flexing and vibrating, and the issue didn’t help as Hulkenberg slid into the Australian. Ricciardo continued but Hulkenberg was done on the spot.

A post-race investigation by the stewards confirmed the technical issue was the cause of the accident, not driver error by Hulkenberg as he dove to the inside.

To hear Ricciardo tell it though, prior to the FIA confirmation, he put the blame on Hulkenberg.

“Yeah I saw him make a lunge, so I was aware he’d be close to the apex,” the Infiniti Red Bull Racing driver told NBC’s Will Buxton.

“He was sort of in my blind spot, so I didn’t take the apex, so I left a bit of room. I sort of opened the wheel, we touched and we wnet off. It felt off… him sort of overcooking it. Unless I went all the way off track I could have avoided it.

“Trying to be fair, I think that was his fault.”

Sahara Force India’s Hulkenberg didn’t exactly admit blame, but he did say the plan to pass didn’t go as intended.

“I saw my chance in taking Daniel. I wanted to go past him quickly,” Hulkenberg told Buxton. “He was holding me up quite a bit. It was damp where I was braking. It wasn’t ideal and unfortunately the move didn’t work.”

In the same interview with Buxton, Ricciardo threw another Red Bull-affiliated driver, Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz, somewhat under the bus.

“With Carlos, there was contact which I thought could have been avoided,” said Ricciardo, who finished 10th. “He squeezed me on braking. Once you brake you should stay straight. We talk about it in driver meetings. It’s a part where you can’t really do much. You’re more or less not in control of moving left or right because you lock a wheel.

“I believe some other drivers weren’t too pleased with him today as well. It’s happened a few times in the past. We’ll wise him up a bit.”

But to close this chapter and turn things back to the headline, Hulkenberg will look to score points in Mexico next week after a run of three DNFs in four races.

“Yeah for sure,” Hulkenberg replied when he was asked whether this was a negative spiral.

“To get results you have to finish races, and these three haven’t been the best run for me.”

Ricciardo, meanwhile, seeks some good ‘ol fashioned Texas BBQ sustinence.

“I have been dieting all week,” Ricciardo told Buxton.

“For whatever reason the car was quite heavy this week, I was aware. They said, ‘This is the race you gotta try at least to not put on weight.

“I was like, ‘You guys are kidding me. We’re in bloody Texas and you’re telling me I can’t eat meat?’

“I’ve had no red meat all week. Tonight I’m gonna eat until I feel pretty sad.”

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

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
James Gilbert/Getty Images
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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.