Formula 1

Force India lose grip on fifth after tough Sochi weekend

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The Sahara Force India team saw their grip on fifth place in the World Constructors’ championship disappear as they could only score a solitary point at the Russian Grand Prix for tenth whereas McLaren were able to finish fourth and fifth and score twenty-two points. Sergio Perez was the driver to take the teams’ point at Sochi, with Nico Hulkenberg only able to finish twelfth.

Perez was able to keep the Williams of Felipe Massa behind him over the final laps of the race despite being told to drastically conserve fuel, and felt it was a very hard-earned point, although he hopes for better performances over the last three events of the season.

“It was a very hard race and a very hard-earned point,” said Perez. “We tried our best to push throughout the race, but obviously the fuel strategy was quite marginal – especially because I started the race on the medium and had to really push to keep in touch with the group on the softs.

“When I was on the softs, it was hard to save fuel because I had to defend from Felipe [Massa] who was behind me for the whole of the second stint. So it was a hard afternoon, but hopefully we can be in better shape for the coming races.”

Team-mate Hulkenberg was disappointed to miss out on points for only the third time in 2014 after struggling to get through the field after his five place grid penalty for a gearbox change. He felt comfortable around the corners at Sochi but felt he was losing time down the straights where the main passing opportunities presented themselves.

“It was quite a difficult race for me today,” said Hulkenberg. “We started pretty far back on the grid and I was struggling a little with my straight-line speed compared to the cars with which I was battling.

“We were doing well in the corners, but losing a bit of ground on the straights, which made it difficult to overtake, especially on a track like this, where the straights are the only good passing opportunities. We could have probably finished in a higher position had it not been for this. We will need to regroup and come back stronger in Austin.”

Team Principal and Managing Director Dr Vijay Mallya felt both drivers did well in the circumstances to finish where they did, and still has ambitions to take fifth in the championship back away from McLaren in the remaining three races of the season.

“It was a difficult race on a track on which overtaking is nearly impossible,” said Mallya. “Checo was able to make his way past some of the other cars and mounted an impressive defence against Felipe Massa to claim the final point. Unfortunately his earlier overtakes had claimed a toll on fuel consumption and he had to give up his chase of Raikkonen to save fuel; otherwise ninth might have been possible.

“Nico’s race was compromised by his grid penalty, but he did well to close in on the top ten. This result complicates a bit the battle for fifth in the Constructors’ Championship, but with three races left, including the double-points finale in Abu Dhabi, everything can still happen. We will keep working hard and give 100% to bring the battle down to the wire.”

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Thirty-something motorsport fanatic, covering Formula 1, Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula 3. Feel free to give him a follow on Twitter at @Paul11MSport.
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