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F1 2016 Driver Review: Felipe Nasr

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Felipe Nasr

Team: Sauber
Car No.: 12
Races: 21
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: 9th (Brazil)
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 2
Laps Led: 0
Championship Position: 17th

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Felipe Nasr’s second season in Formula 1 was a largely forgettable one. Sure, Sauber basically ran an updated version of its 2015 car for the bulk of the year as a result of its financial struggles, but he still failed to deliver on-track.

When racing for a backmarker team, you cannot be expected to work wonders, so your teammate is your best marker. Nasr was always regarded as the stronger racer at Sauber alongside Marcus Ericsson, yet he lost in the head-to-heads in both qualifying and races. It’s a pretty damning defeat.

Nasr’s outstanding moment came in Brazil, where he weathered the storm and red flags to finish ninth. he drove a good race, but the real magic came courtesy of Sauber’s pit wall where the strategy vaulted him up the pack.

It’s unclear whether Nasr will return next year, but his form this season didn’t help his cause much.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Nasr’s reward for bringing Sauber two points and the financial upside that goes with it in the Constructor’s Championship is… an uncertain future in F1 after this season. The Brazilian’s sophomore season was underwhelming and forgettable otherwise.

Other than his home race where he did bring the car home, Nasr never looked like scoring points this year. Marcus Ericsson largely outclassed him in both qualifying and the races; in races where both drivers finished, Ericsson held a 9-4 edge.

Nasr has enough talent to be in F1 but his future will be dictated more by financials, even though he said in Abu Dhabi he’d prefer it to be results-based only. After an opportunistic 2015, Nasr didn’t follow-up as best as he could have this year.

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

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Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.