After disappointing somewhat in qualifying ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix, the Sahara Force India team showed much better race pace in Sunday’s race. Nico Hulkenberg took home ten World Championship points for a fifth place finish, but Sergio Perez was looking likely to an even better result before being eliminated in a last lap crash with the Williams of Felipe Massa.
Perez was looking good for a strong result when he was running second behind the long-time leader Nico Rosberg, but his an electrical issue and a brake problem slowed him sufficiently to lose places to both Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel, before losing the chance of a points finish altogether after a last lap collision with Massa going into turn one.
“On the final lap I was defending my position going into turn one when I suddenly got hit from behind,” said a disappointed Perez. “It was a big impact, but I am okay. I’m really sad for the team because we had an amazing race today and the one-stop strategy was working perfectly.
“It was not easy in the final laps and I was pushing hard to try and get ahead of Nico for the lead. Daniel managed to get ahead of me when I had an electrical issue with my car, but I managed to reset the system for the final couple of laps. The podium was possible today and I’m just very disappointed for the points we have lost.”
Team-mate Hulkenberg finished the race strongly in fifth, inheriting the place after Perez and Massa’s crash, but having lost a place to the McLaren of Jenson Button just before the safety car was deployed. The German kept the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso behind him for the last stint of the race, and he was happy about finishing in the points for the seventh race out of seven in 2014.
“It has been a very busy race for me today, so to come away with ten points and a fifth place is a good result,” said Hulkenberg. “I gained some positions at the end due to the crash between Sergio and Massa but lost one to Jenson when I was in a battle with Alonso, but we were always going to finish in the points regardless.
“The safety car at the start didn’t help me as it allowed those on supersoft tyres to stretch their stints. Being on a different strategy from everyone else meant I always had someone pushing close behind me: it was fun, but also very challenging, especially towards the end of the race as I had quite a long stint on the supersoft tyres.
“Stopping only once I had a bigger challenge managing the tyres compared to the two-stoppers, but I think we got the right reward for it. I think it was the fastest strategy for us today and to be the only two cars to manage a one-stopper is definitely a positive.”
Deputy Team Principal Robert Fernley was disappointed about the end result for Perez who was looking good for a strong result in Canada, but was quick to praise both the Mexican and Hulkenberg after both showed good pace on varying one-stop strategies; Perez going Supersoft-Soft, Hulkenberg Soft-Supersoft.
“The most important thing today is that Checo is okay after that very heavy impact on the final lap,” said Fernley. “He had done a fantastic race, challenging for the lead for a large part of the afternoon and holding on to what was shaping up to be a very strong result. Unfortunately, this was not to be, but we will focus on the positives and build on the performance we showed today at the coming races.
“Nico delivered another very solid performance, making the most of an alternative one-stop strategy. He drove smartly to resist incredible pressure towards the end of the race and was able to bring home another good haul of points. As in previous rounds, our pace looked really strong in the race and we are confident we will be translating it into another good performance in Austria.”