The Sahara Force India team lost ground to McLaren in the battle for fifth place in the World Constructors Championship at Sochi three weeks ago, and both Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez are hoping to reverse the momentum McLaren have gathered in the last handful of races so to close down the twenty-point gap at this weekend’s United States Grand Prix at Austin.
Hulkenberg has a good record at Austin, finishing eighth in 2012 and sixth in 2013, and is hopeful of a stronger weekend in America than he experienced in Sochi three weeks ago where he failed to score any points for only the third time this season.
“I remember that as soon as I drove in Austin my first thought was that it was an amazing circuit,” reflected Hulkenberg. “It’s fun to drive, with lots of different kinds of corners, and it’s one of the best tracks from the new generation of circuits. It’s very easy to find a rhythm and the tarmac is very smooth, which makes it very nice to drive. Away from the track, Austin is a venue everybody enjoys visiting. It’s not the biggest city, but there is a good atmosphere and they love Formula One.
“I’ve had good results in Austin [P8 in 2012 and P6 in 2013] so I am feeling upbeat about this weekend. It’s clear that some teams ahead of us have made a step forward recently, but we know that we can race well. I think it’s realistic to target points again this weekend and try to close the gap to fifth place.”
Team-mate Perez has scored points in the last five races since the mid-season break, a run that has given the Mexican a confidence boost, and he comes to Austin knowing there will be a strong contingent of Mexican fans cheering him on, which makes it feel like a home Grand Prix for him. In the two previous Austin races he has a best finish of seventh in 2013 while driving for McLaren, and admits to enjoying driving around the circuit.
“Austin is a great race and because it’s so close to Mexico it feels like my ‘home’ race,” insisted Perez. “There are usually a lot of Mexican fans and you feel a lot of support because the grandstands are full and there are always a lot of Mexican flags. I enjoy the track; especially the first sector and the uphill turn one, which is quite unusual. You can brake extremely late for this corner and it’s a good overtaking opportunity. From there you go into the quick corners: turns three, four and five, which are a lot of fun to drive.
“I arrive in Austin feeling positive. I’ve scored points in every race since the summer break – five races in a row – and I think we’ve maximised what we could get out of those races. We’ve been racing hard, taking some chances, and making some excellent decisions with the strategy so hopefully we can continue to do so in the next few races.”