Off the back of his Le Mans 24 Hours success an inspired Nico Hulkenberg gave Force India their best finish of the year so far in Austria and won the Driver of the Weekend poll.
Nico Hulkenberg’s Austrian Grand Prix weekend
Force India has had a difficult start to the season with its VJM08 but in Austria the Mercedes-powered car looked a more competitive proposition. Hulkenberg was sixth in second practice, just half a second off the fastest time.
Hulkenberg sustained his performance in qualifying and secured Force India’s first top-five start of the season, beaten only by the two Mercedes, Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari and Felipe Massa’s Williams. Meanwhile team mate Sergio Perez failed to proceed beyond Q1.
With the faster Williams of Valtteri Bottas behind, and none of the drivers ahead hitting trouble, improving on that position was always going to be a big ask. Hulkenberg gave it his all, however, and despite being passed by Bottas at one stage an early pit stop allowed him to briefly re-claim the place.
There was no denying Bottas, however, so Hulkenberg crossed the line in sixth place. Hulkenberg’s efforts, plus ninth place for Perez, moved Force India ahead of Lotus in the constructors’ championship. And it gives F1’s big teams a timely reminder of Hulkenberg’s potential.
Fifth in qualifying and sixth in a race is not where a Force India belongs. Easily Nico Hulkenberg this week.
Decided to go for Hulkenberg though, fifth in qualifying was outstanding. Managed to keep Bottas at bay for a good percentage of the race.
Finally, Hulkenberg back in great form, showing both great defensive race craft and also just great pace in general. The star of qualifying, splitting the two Williams, which is quite clearly a faster car, and then in the race, holding off Bottas for what seemed like forever, and on top of that was so much faster than pretty much everyone else in similarly paced machinery. Not to mention he utterly destroyed Perez this weekend.
Winners and losers in the Austrian Grand Prix
It was a good weekend for the Nicos: race winner Rosberg also figured highly in your voting, although many felt his error in qualifying, which potentially cost him pole position – was too much to overlook.
Felipe Massa, Pastor Maldonado and Max Verstappen also polled well, the latter pair providing one of the race’s few highlights with their battle for seventh place..
Nico Rosberg. Overtook Hamilton at the start and pretty much dictated the race from then on.
A good opportunistic win and winning from second on the grid would give a lot of confidence for the rest of the season as well.
As it’s Driver of the Weekend I have to give it to Hulkenberg, Rosberg made a key error in qualifying.
Verstappen got plaudits for another strong weekend, at a track where Toro Rosso should have struggled, and sister team Red Bull did.
To qualify seventh and finish eighth in a Renault-powered car on a power track is a superb effort.
Maldonado led Verstappen home after another solid drive from the much-maligned Lotus racer:
He really made it very exciting to watch, and was fighting clean.
Massa also won a lot of praise, if not that many votes:
Massa for me. Flawless Friday and Saturday sessions, solid pace in the race, one more time made the most of his tires, and in the end managed to control a faster Vettel behind him.
And though it was a weekend to forget for Kimi Raikkonen, Biggsy managed to find one reason to vote for him:
Must be Raikkonen: Not only drove the wheels off that Ferrari, but off McLaren, too!
2015 Austrian Grand Prix
- Strong run wins Hulkenberg Driver of the Weekend
- F1 continues to underwhelm in 2015
- 2015 Austrian Grand Prix team radio transcript
- Top ten pictures from the 2015 Austrian Grand Prix
- Vote for your 2015 Austrian GP Driver of the Weekend
15 comments on “Strong run wins Hulkenberg Driver of the Weekend”
30th June 2015, 11:19
Ah! Finally a mention on the site :) Thanks Keith!!!
Bradley Downton (@bradley13)
30th June 2015, 12:04
@evered7 – Ahem…
30th June 2015, 12:09
@bradley13 Oops :) See that is what excitement of getting mentioned the first time does.
Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1)
30th June 2015, 12:17
Bradley Downton (@bradley13)
30th June 2015, 12:24
@evered7 Haha, no worries. It was a great comment and fitted in really well.
30th June 2015, 12:10
Well then, I guess the overexagerated hype around Hulkenberg can slowly decrease now.
30th June 2015, 12:19
Considering that FI will be bringing a heavily updated car to Silverstone and the feedback given by the test drivers at Austria means Nico hype is here to stay.
30th June 2015, 15:14
@xtwl I agree. I’m a big Hulk fan but the 2014b spec Force India is vastly improved since the Monaco suspension update and that’s what has made the efforts of the 2 FI drivers so notable. It was Perez time in Monaco and now Hulk in Austria.
the hype might change to how good this new 2015 car may be, as @evered7 points out.
30th June 2015, 16:06
Hulk is a bit in-betwixt and between I think. He did himself a lot of damage I sense in Brazil 2012 with two big errors in and around the lead, but he’s too aggressive and fast to be a Barrichello/ Massa/ Kovy type No2. He’s not on the Red Bull train either, so he needs Ferrari or Merc to make a big, bold move and oust Nico or upset Seb.
I wish they would. I’m not hopeful though.
30th June 2015, 17:11
Its high time that Hulk gets a top drive in 2016. Otherwise, Le Mans is waiting for him.
Rick Lopez (@viscountviktor)
30th June 2015, 17:39
@bradley13 Can you put the table at the end which shows the top 3 from all the grand prix this year?
Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine)
30th June 2015, 17:52
@viscountviktor Here’s why we’re not doing that any more:
Juan Melendez (@juanmelendezr1)
30th June 2015, 20:02
Hulk did something similar to what Perez achieved in the demanding circuit of Monaco and the german won a deserved driver of the weekend even when he lost a position, that proves that if you are a Latin American driver you need to do 150% better than your pairs to gain some acknowledge from the european press and european fans, you need to be like Senna, Piquet, Fangio, Fittipaldi, to gain some respect.
1st July 2015, 0:08
Of course this poll is completely arbitrary, but suggesting there is some sort of bias against Latin American drivers is really very far fetched.
David Cantu (@bugsracer)
1st July 2015, 2:06
I don’t agree with you in this case, even that I’m from Mexico, this time Hulk deserve the honer to be the driver of the weekend, and I believe we can include driver of the week, with the LeMans victory.
Be patience, Sergio Perez time will come during this year, there will be a podium for him.
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