Nico Hulkenberg deserved of 2021 F1 seat after stunning Nurburgring drive

Nico Hulkenberg sat over a coffee with a friend in Cologne on Saturday morning when Otmar Szafnauer’s name flashed up on his phone screen.

The German driver, who was left without a seat for the 2020 season, was due to travel to Nurburgring later that day to do some punditry work for the Eiffel Grand Prix.

His weekend would be turned upside down, though, as the Racing Point team principal called him four hours before qualifying to ask him to fill in for an unwell Lance Stroll.

It was the third time Hulkenberg has stepped in for Racing Point at short notice this campaign, serving as a temporary replacement for Sergio Perez at both Silverstone races in August.

But with no practice at a circuit he last raced on seven years ago, and the car upgraded since his last outing two months ago, qualifying was always going to be difficult.

Qualifying 20th and last was hardly surprising, given the former Renault man only managed to clock four laps during Q1, finishing 0.9 seconds off Perez.

Nevertheless, he put any disappointment about his lowly starting position behind him on race day to move up four places and maintain a steady pace early on.

The 33-year-old continued to maximise his opportunities, one particular highlight being his pass on compatriot Sebastian Vettel on the pits straight, en route to finishing eighth.

He was deservedly named Driver of the Day for his stunning efforts, finishing just 1.782 seconds behind Charles Leclerc who started in fourth.

Combined with Perez placing fourth, Racing Point collected 16 points in Germany to move into third in the constructors’ championship.

Of course, Hulkenberg had a strong car and five drivers retired during the race, but going 60 laps with no practice at a challenging circuit like Nurburgring is impressive.

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French Open champion Iga Swiatek rises to 17th in WTA rankings

French Open champion Iga Swiatek joined the Top 20 for the first time Monday by rising 37 spots in the WTA rankings to a career-best No. 17.

Rafael Nadal’s 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 victory over Novak Djokovic on Sunday for a 13th championship at Roland Garros and 20th Grand Slam trophy in all — tying Roger Federer’s record for men — did not change the top of the ATP rankings.

Djokovic, who won the Australian Open in February for his 17th major title, is still No. 1, with Nadal at No. 2, followed by U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem and Federer.

The 19-year-old Swiatek entered the French Open at No. 54 and became the lowest-ranked female champion at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament since the WTA computer rankings began in 1975.

Her 6-4, 6-1 victory over Sofia Kenin on Saturday gave Swiatek the first tour-level title of any sort in her professional career and made her Poland’s first Grand Slam singles champion.

Kenin’s run to the final — the first time she made it to the quarterfinals on clay anywhere — allowed her to move up two places to No. 4, matching her career high. The 21-year-old American went 16-2 in Grand Slam matches in 2020, winning her first such trophy at the Australian Open in February.

The top three in the women’s rankings remained as they were before the French Open, with Ash Barty at No. 1, Simona Halep at No. 2, and Naomi Osaka at No. 3. Serena Williams is No. 10.

When competition resumed in August after a hiatus of about five months because of the coronavirus pandemic, the tours decided to allow players to use either their 2019 or 2020 results at any given tournament for rankings purposes, so Barty wasn’t hurt by sitting out the French

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No longer just crime: Nordic TV’s new wave

Swedish supernatural series “Cryptid” is about unexplained goings-on among a group of college kids in the fictional small town of Morkstad. Image: Beta Film via AFP Relaxnews.

For over a decade, Nordic crime series such as “The Bridge” and “Wallander” have captivated international TV audiences with stories of brooding detectives, elaborate murders and bleak Scandinavian landscapes.

But now the success of so-called Nordic noir has spawned overseas interest in a new wave of TV productions from Europe’s far north, this time in genres from period drama to teen horror.

One hotly anticipated release is Swedish supernatural series “Cryptid” about unexplained goings-on among a group of college kids in the fictional small town of Morkstad.

Premiering in the Nordics this month, the series has generated “strong interest” abroad, according to its international distributor Beta Film, with sales so far to Germany’s Joyn and France’s Salto streaming services.

The 10-part show has also made the official selection for the Cannes International Series Festival in the south of France, which opens on Friday, Oct. 16, where a record six of the 20 shortlisted series are Scandinavian productions.

“The rise of streaming platforms has generated a demand for content that stands out and is still fairly cheap, and this is true for Nordic content,” Aarhus University associate professor Pia Jensen told AFP. “Nordic series have for the most part quite high production values, which is key if you want to sell on the international market.”

The binge-friendly, half-hour episodes of “Cryptid” have a more dynamic feel than the slow-moving plot lines which often characterize Nordic shows. The format and the colors also set the series apart from other Swedish horror hits, like the 2008 vampire film “Let the Right One In”.

When AFP visited the “Cryptid” film set in October last year, a small,

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