After a troubled qualifying for the Sahara Force India team on Saturday at Spa-Francorchamps, both Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg managed to claw their way back into points contention, and were ultimately rewarded with an eighth and a tenth place finish, meaning the team broke through the 100 point barrier, the earliest the team have ever achieved this.
Perez originally finished ninth, holding off the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat in the final stint, but inherited eighth after the McLaren of Kevin Magnussen was penalised ahead of him. He felt the race was relatively easy and believed he got the best result he could have achieved on the day.
“Somehow I avoided all the crazy battles that took place today because my race was quite straightforward,” admitted Perez. “I went flat out and I think we achieved the most that was possible from the race. I lost a bit of time in the second stint, having to pass the two McLarens and I took a bit too much out of the tyres, which cost me some time later in the stint.
“In the final ten laps I was under a lot of pressure from Kvyat: he was catching me quickly, but I managed to hold him off. In the end, we got some points out of this weekend and that’s the important thing.”
After the troubles of qualifying where Hulkenberg was eliminated in the first session, the German felt it was Saturday that cost him the chance of a better result on Sunday. He originally finished just outside the points right on Kvyat’s tail, but moved into tenth place after Magnussen’s penalty.
“I guess I paid the price for the mistakes yesterday [in qualifying] which gave us so much ground to recover in the race,” said Hulkenberg. “My start was not great, but I was able to gain a few positions on the first lap. After that I had good pace, but it was hard to show it because I was stuck in heavy traffic.
“There was a train of cars in the midfield with everybody using DRS and making it very difficult to overtake. I think that’s where we lost the most time today. I was closing quickly on Kvyat at the end and I was very close, but I probably needed an extra lap to be able to get ahead.”
Deputy Team Principal Robert Fernley was happy with the fightback the team showed after their lacklustre qualifying session. He knew it would be a challenge to get into the points, especially with the battle around the midfield being so close and fierce, but was happy to see both drivers fight through into the top ten.
“Considering the issues we had in qualifying yesterday, it’s good to see the team recover some ground today and score points,” said Fernley. “The two-stop races for Sergio and Nico went to plan, without any significant issues, but starting outside the top ten meant we were always going to face an uphill struggle this afternoon.
“Both drivers were caught in the midfield train of traffic and that made it difficult to demonstrate our true race pace, especially early on. We remain in a strong position in the championship and hopefully Monza will give us a better opportunity to show our potential and get both cars in the points.”