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GP Week : Issue 189
While sebastian Vettel’s commanding victory margin at Monza stretched somewhere in the region of five seconds back to Fernando Alonso, a further five seconds down the road provided another anecdote in the race for the second seat at Ferrari next year. After qualifying an astounding third on Saturday, talk about a potential move to replace Felipe Massa at Ferrari was brought up faster than a two -day old curry, but Hulkenberg was relatively circumspect when facing the inevitable inquiries about a switch from white to red overalls. “I can only influence it by performing very well and obviously today's result is not the worst,” mused Hulkenberg on Saturday. “For me it's just important to focus on my competitiveness and my performance and that will make the rest easier but probably the timing is not the worst at this moment.” Hulkenberg was not alone in losing a place to Massa at the start, with Webber finding himself in the same boat, and another drop in position to Alonso would do no harm politically, even if it did sting a little at the time. His subsequent defence against Lewis Hamilton was as measured as they come, defending as much as he needed to and no more in the knowledge that the Mercedes driver would have to pit again and had lost the time required to execute a change in position through pit strategy. In a season where two -tenths of a second can see you bumped out at the end of Q1, his performance was a testament to Hulkenberg’s tenacity and perseverance given reports of instability at Sauber. Teammate Esteban Gutierrez also showed decent pace on Sunday, but finishing some eight places behind one’s stablemate doesn’t garner many headlines. Fifth place for Hulkenberg should be considered on a par with – if not superior to – Sergio Perez’s performances at Sauber in 2012 given the German’s lack of competitive equipment compared to last year’s C31. Sunday’s result gave the Swiss team a much needed boost, while the fact that Hulkenberg crossed the line just out of DRS range of the man whose seat he hopes to steal will keep the key decision makers at Maranello talking over the next few days. The Hulk's wow factor 31 GPWEEK.com // 31 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> ITALY