The Sahara Force India team arrive at Hockenheim for the German Grand Prix having lost fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship after the renaissance of the Williams Martini Racing team enabled the Grove team to leapfrog them at Silverstone. Nico Hulkenberg kept up his amazing points scoring run going at the British Grand Prix, but like team-mate Sergio Perez suffered with handling issues throughout the event.
For the ninth time in nine races, Hulkenberg managed to score points with eighth place at Silverstone, and heads into his home race confident of further points, especially as he believes the circuit and the tyres should suit the care far better than the British circuit did.
“Even on tracks where we have been struggling slightly, we have managed to score points,” said Hulkenberg. “For example, in Silverstone the car balance was not ideal, but we still came away with four points. I’m feeling more positive about our performance in Germany, especially with the return of the soft and supersoft tyres.
“I know Hockenheim really well because it was my local circuit when I was growing up. It’s the track where I had my first car race in 2005 and I also have good memories from Formula 3. It’s always a busy race and the fans make a special atmosphere. They always show lots of support for the German drivers.
“For me the trickiest corner is turn one. It’s so quick at well over 200 km/h and there is a curb on the exit where it’s easy to make a mistake and run wide. The other big feature is the hairpin after the back straight. It’s a heavy braking zone and it is easy to run too deep and lose time. It’s also a great overtaking opportunity. The racing is always good at Hockenheim so it should be a good show for the fans.”
Team-mate Perez missed out on points at Silverstone due to an early collision with the Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne that relegated the Mexican to the back of the field. He participated in the post-Silverstone test to see if they could understand the issues that affected them so badly at the teams’ home event, but believes Hockenheim will suit them much better.
“It was good to have the chance to understand some of the issues that affected us during the race weekend,” said Perez. “We also tested new aero parts on the car and the team will look at the data to decide whether we use them in Germany. I believe Hockenheim will be a very different situation; it’s a track that should suit our car better and we should be in a much stronger position.
“It looks like a track where we can perform well. With the softer tyres and warm temperatures it’s going to be an interesting race. I like the track, especially the final sector going into the stadium area. I love attacking those corners and you can find a lot of time in this part of the lap. I spent a lot of time in Germany during my career so it’s always good to go back there.”
Team Principal and Managing Director of Sahara Force India Dr Vijay Mallya knows the season is still young but is looking to get back into fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship. He feels the upgrades still to come onto the car will assist them put pressure on Ferrari and Williams ahead of them and keep McLaren behind them.
“We’re in fifth, but there’s still a long way to go in the season,” said Mallya. “We’re still well positioned to fight and regain the fourth slot, so anything is possible. This is the same car that has been performing very well during the first half of the year and I’m confident we will be strong in the second half. It’s had regular upgrades and there is more to come.
“Hockenheim is a medium-speed circuit and we have done well on these sorts of tracks this year. It’s also Nico’s home race so I am sure he will have some extra motivation to do well. We have scored points in every race, but we need to score with both cars if we want to maintain our position in the championship. It’s expected to be one of the hotter races of the year and that usually works in our favour.”