LONDON (Reuters) - Force India are hoping Nico Hulkenberg’s triumph at the Le Mans 24 Hours race will have a knock-on effect for them at next weekend’s Austrian Formula One Grand Prix.
Hulkenberg won the classic endurance race at the first attempt with Porsche on Sunday, having gone straight to the French track from scoring points at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal.
After a few days of recovery, the 27-year-old German will be back in action with his regular employers in Friday practice at Spielberg.
“Nico’s performance displayed his immense talent and made all of us at Sahara Force India proud,” said team principal and co-owner Vijay Mallya, who was at Le Mans to witness Hulkenberg’s victory, on Monday.
“I truly hope he will be boosted by this success and translate it into another great performance in Austria,” added the liquor mogul in a preview of the eighth round of the championship.
Hulkenberg’s eighth place in Montreal was only his second scoring finish of the season and left Force India seventh overall and level on points with sixth-placed Sauber.
The German, who finished ninth in Austria last year, has yet to stand on the Formula One podium and said on Sunday that winning Le Mans was his greatest achievement.
He cannot expect such excitement with Force India this week, with the Mercedes-powered team treading water before introducing a heavily revised car at next month’s British Grand Prix.
”We are still on course to introduce an important step in Silverstone,“ said Mallya. ”In the meantime, the team has done well to squeeze more performance from our current package.
“The high-speed layout of Canada certainly played to the strengths of the Mercedes engine and, as Austria is regarded as another ‘power’ circuit’, I would like to think we can be in the top 10 once again.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond