© Getty Images

F1 2015 Driver Review: Nico Hulkenberg

Leave a comment

Nico Hulkenberg

Team: Sahara Force India F1 Team
Car No.: 27
Races: 18
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: 6th (Austria, Japan, Brazil)
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 58
Laps Led: 0
Championship Position: 10th

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

That elusive podium failed to materialize for Nico Hulkenberg once again in 2015. The German driver has long been tipped as one of the most underrated drivers in Formula 1, yet he failed to live up to that billing this year.

Force India had its troubles that of course did not aid Hulkenberg’s efforts. The 2015 car only debuted at the final winter test in Barcelona, and it wasn’t until the British Grand Prix at Silverstone that the B-spec model arrived.

However, Hulkenberg didn’t enjoy the same upsurge in form that teammate Sergio Perez did. The fact that his highest finish of the year was sixth is indicative of that, as is the fact that he rarely went challenge en route to these finishes. He picked up big points on weekends when Force India was comfortably fourth-quickest; rarely did he out-perform the ability of the car in the second half of the year.

And yet 2015 will still go down as an astonishing year for Hulkenberg. His victory on debut at Le Mans stole the headlines, and it’s a shame he will not be able to defend his title next year. One can only hope that he makes good on the early promise of his career and finally, finally, ends that inexplicable podium drought.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Strange year for the “Hulk.” His best result came in a new discipline and I’m not sure whether to correlate the lack of results in his day job, especially by comparison to Sahara Force India teammate Sergio Perez, with the switch in machinery and re-adapting back to F1 after his 24 Hours of Le Mans win co-driving with Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber in the Porsche 919 Hybrid.

Hulkenberg beat Perez on a more regular basis in the 2014 chassis, prior to the introduction of the B-spec chassis from Silverstone that, coincidentally or not, came after Le Mans.

As it was, Hulkenberg was mired in a rut from Hungary through Austin where he failed to finish five of seven races in a single span. Three respectable points finishes at least ended his year on a productive note. On the whole though, for a driver who has traditionally outperformed his machinery and tended to end seasons on a roll, it was a largely anonymous season.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
1 Comment

Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.