Hulkenberg avoids first lap woes, ends “maximum” seventh in Mexico (VIDEO)

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From fifth place on the grid, the hope was high that Nico Hulkenberg could finally secure his first podium finish in a Grand Prix Sunday in Mexico City. The Sahara Force India driver, who will join Renault next year, outqualified both Ferraris – but was always concerned they’d get ahead of him on race day.

Hulkenberg could well have been the beneficiary had either Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg been penalized for going wide through Turns 1 and 2 on the opening lap – Hamilton running wide after a lockup and Rosberg continuing through the grass after contact with Max Verstappen – but in the end he was fourth behind them once the Virtual Safety Car, then actual Safety Car was deployed following the Pascal Wehrlein accident behind them.

Hulkenberg would later drop behind the first of the Ferraris as Sebastian Vettel played the long game on softs to start the race, with 31 laps running.

Hulkenberg was still poised for sixth place though, running ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, before a late spin with contact between the two dropped him back behind the second Ferrari.

It was a slightly tough end but otherwise a good weekend, as Hulkenberg explained, because the Force India did not have the measure of the Ferrari in race pace.

“We weren’t fighting with same weapons. He had a massive car and tire advantage. I was surprised to keep him behind so long!” Hulkenberg told NBCSN.

“When it got serious, you could see he was trying to overtake me. He just had a big enough advantage. Braking on a dirty track with 60-odd lap tires is quite tricky. He turned in on me and I had no possibility to stop the car more. I had to spin to avoid a crash.”

Additionally, with Hulkenberg having gone out on the first lap of several Grands Prix this season – Austin and Singapore being the two most recent examples – it was a huge day for him to end seventh and secure valuable points. It’s his best result since coming fourth in Spa.

“This was the strategy for us. Two stop, we had nothing to gain. Seventh was the maximum today, as expected,” he said. “Nice as it was yesterday, you see with Seb, he’s way up the road. We don’t have the power or pace to fight them. I’m quite happy with my weekend. Yesterday was the highlight but today was a good drive.”

Hulkenberg was surprised Hamilton wasn’t investigated further for the first turn dust-up.

“I think so. I’m quite surprised. He was far from making Turn 1 and 2,” he said.

“The fact it wasn’t looked at is surprising to me. Otherwise you’re losing positions. I cant understand why that wasn’t looked at.”

Michael Schumacher’s son to make F1 practice debut at Nurburgring

F1 Mick Schumacher
Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
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MARANELLO, Italy — Mick Schumacher, son of the legednary seven-time champion, will have an official Formula One drive during an F1 race weekend for the first time next week at the Nurburgring, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari said Tuesday.

Schumacher gets the practice drive in an Alfa Romeo on Oct. 9 on his home track in Germany as a member of Ferrari’s young driver program, taking over Antonio Giovinazzi’s car for the first session of the weekend.

“I am overjoyed to get this chance in free practice,” Schumacher said in a statement. “I’m going to prepare myself well, so that I can do the best possible job for the team and gain some valuable data for the weekend.”

The 21-year-old Schumacher leads the Formula 2 standings after winning races in Monza and Sochi. He won the European Formula 3 championship in 2018 and tested a Ferrari F1 car in Bahrain in April 2019. He also has done demonstration runs in his father’s old cars, most recently this month ahead of the Tuscan Grand Prix in a championship-winning 2004 Ferrari.

Michael Schumacher holds the F1 record with 91 victories, which Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of tying.

Ferrari said two other drivers in its academy program will also get practice drives in Formula One.

Callum Ilott, a British driver who is second to Mick Schumacher in F2, will drive an F1 Haas at the Nurburgring on the same day as Schumacher. Russian driver Robert Shwartzman will drive in practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Dec. 11, though Ferrari hasn’t said for which team.

The German round was added to the F1 schedule after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the season and will be officially known as the Eifel Grand Prix after a nearby mountain range. The Nurburgring last hosted F1 in 2013.