The Sahara Force India team had a mixed bag of results at the Italian Grand Prix, with Sergio Perez finishing an impressive seventh at Monza, but Nico Hulkenberg missed out on points for only the second time in 2014.
Perez was involved in an almost race-long battle with the two McLaren’s, and the Mexican admitted the race was a lot of fun, especially with his former team-mate Jenson Button, who he raced cleanly and impressively finished ahead of. He knew Kevin Magnussen had a penalty so did not attempt to overtake the second McLaren driver, instead concentrating on keeping Button behind him.
“The race was a lot of fun,” said Perez. “We were always fighting somebody and always pushing hard. It was great racing and it’s good to score important points for the championship. The most important part of the race was the fight I had with Jenson, which was really nice and reminded me of the old days.
“I know he is a driver that you can fight really hard and it’s always clean. At the end of the race with Kevin, I knew he had a penalty and there was no need to attack him. It meant I could focus on keeping Jenson behind me, which was not easy.”
Team-mate Hulkenberg had a less than exciting race, being one of the few drivers in the field to try the alternative strategy of using the Hard Pirelli tyre before switching to the Medium, but could not find a way to get into the points. He was disappointed to loose contact with the drivers ahead of him because of his tyre choice.
“It wasn’t a very busy race for me,” said Hulkenberg. “I was racing alone most of the time and just doing my own race: not being towed around or benefiting from DRS made it a bit harder. I had a very good start, especially considering I was on the hard tyre, but I lost contact with the cars ahead of me quite soon because they were on the medium and I didn’t really have the same pace.
“It was quite difficult to manage the car, especially the rear end: I had some oversteering and it was tricky to drive. I pitted quite early as I wasn’t going anywhere on my hard tyres and we saw a good opportunity to jump people, but we still found it difficult to deal with the balance.
“We need to look ahead now to Singapore and work to bring more performance to the car. Singapore is a track we all enjoy: everything – the track, the atmosphere, the set-up – is special.”
Team Principal and Managing Director Vijay Mallya was happy to see Perez fight for points at Monza and score six points towards the championship that keeps them firmly in the fight for fifth place in the championship against McLaren.
“Six points keeps us where we need to be in our close championship battle with just a single point separating us from fifth place,” said Mallya. “Sergio was mighty today, showing once again how well he can race with some brilliant overtaking and defending.
Nico made a great start, but he has not been completely comfortable with the car balance all weekend and especially in the race today. Despite his very strong start, points were out of reach. With six races remaining this season, I still believe we have all to play for and that we must keep pushing hard.”