Nico Hulkenberg lost the chance to take his and Force India’s first Grand Prix victory after a collision with Lewis Hamilton in Brazil. The German had already seen a sizeable lead wiped out by the safety car before a spin handed the initiative to Hamilton. But on lap 55, the two came together at turn one as Hulkenberg attempted to regain the lead and the subsequent drive-through penalty dropped him to fifth.
Hulkenberg later apologised to Hamilton for the accident but was still happy with the result which ensured he scored points on his final race with Force India.
“That was a lot of fun – very entertaining and there was so much happening all the time! We had a great chance to finish on the podium today, but it slipped away, which is a shame. In the early laps it was difficult to keep the car on the track in the very damp conditions, but it was not really wet enough for intermediates and I stuck with the slicks. It was the right decision and soon I was leading the race. I felt comfortable but eventually I made a small mistake and Lewis got ahead of me. I managed to stay with him and was fighting to get the lead back when we touched. It’s hard to say what happened but I was making a move going into turn one and had a slightly loose rear. I was about to turn in and suddenly there was contact. It’s a shame for both of us because we were having a great battle. I managed to keep going but I had lost a lot of time. Fifth place is still a super result to end the season and I think the team did an excellent job this weekend. I hope they enjoyed the race – it’s a nice leaving present in my last race.”
Teammate Paul Di Resta was also on target for points in eighth but a heavy crash on the penultimate lap ruled him out, the Briton a victim of the late rain shower.
“It was a very tricky race and not easy to make the calls with the weather constantly changing. Ultimately we made the wrong decision to switch to the intermediates in the early stages because the track began to dry quite soon after my stop. The tyres lost performance quickly and I went back to the slicks just before the safety car came out. That brought us back into play, but I struggled for grip at the restart and lost a few places. When we went back to the intermediates in the closing stages we were more competitive and I was up in eighth place. Unfortunately with a lap to go I aquaplaned in the final corner. It was a big hit with the wall, but I’m OK.”