Nico Hulkenberg says he is not surprised by his charge to seventh place in qualifying for the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas on Saturday, believing it to have been the best result Force India could have scored.
Force India traveled to Austin embroiled in a tight battle with Williams for fourth place in the Formula 1 constructors’ championship, currently enjoying a 10-point advantage with four races remaining.
Hulkenberg featured in the top 10 throughout practice at the Circuit of The Americas, and converted this impressive pace into seventh place on the grid in qualifying.
The German finished clear of Williams drivers Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa in P8 and P9 respectively, but was not surprised by such a strong showing.
“No, this was expected. We always thought the car should perform quite well here,” Hulkenberg told NBCSN after the session.
“Seventh was the maximum we could do. For our own power, we couldn’t be with the top three. But beat Williams by half a second, and that wasn’t really expected. All good.”
With every point proving crucial in the battle with Williams, Hulkenberg was asked whether he would like a lonely race to seventh on Sunday.
“I wouldn’t mind that. A quiet race can be nice,” Hulkenberg said.
“It’s chip away and take the points home. I don’t plan for a messy first lap, but that could happen. I just want a good result.”
The United States Grand Prix is live on NBC and the NBC Sports app from 2:30pm ET on Sunday.
Webb and Tomac won the last four championships with two apiece in alternating years, but they were not one another’s primary rival for most of those seasons. On the average, however, the past four years show an incredible similarity with average points earned of 21.0 for Webb and 21.3 for Tomac. With five wins so far this season, Tomac (23 wins) leads Webb (19) in victories but Webb (43) edges Tomac (41) in podium finishes during this span.
Sexton still has a lot to say and after winning last week in Detroit, he is speaking up. The Supercross numbers are against him entering Seattle, however, because a points’ deficit this large after Round 10 has been erased only once. In 1983 David Bailey was 47 points behind Bob Hannah, and like Sexton he was also in third place. Bailey took the points’ lead with one race remaining.
The seven points Sexton was penalized last week for jumping in a red cross flag section in Detroit could prove extremely costly.
In fact, it has been a series of mistakes that has cost Sexton the most. In the last two weeks, he lost 10 points with a 10th-place finish to go with his penalty. Erase those, and all three riders hold their fate in their hands.
Plessinger’s heartbreak in Detroit is still fresh, but the upside of his run is that was his best of the season and could turn his fortunes around. Prior to that race, he led only seven laps in three mains. He was up front for 20 laps in Detroit with five of those being the fastest on the track.
Last week’s win by Hunter Lawrence tied him with his brother Jett Lawrence for 17th on the all-time wins’ list. With the focus shifting to 250 West for the next two rounds, Jett has a great opportunity to pull back ahead. The real test will be at the first East / West Showdown in East Rutherford, New Jersey on April 22.
Last Five Seattle Winners
450s 2022: Eli Tomac
2019: Marvin Musquin
2018: Eli Tomac
2017: Marvin Musquin
2014: Ryan Villopoto