Sahara Force India were able to take four points away from the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos, with Nico Hulkenberg continuing his good form at the circuit with an eighth place finish after starting twelfth. Team-mate Sergio Perez was less fortunate however, with a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane compounding a disappointing and difficult weekend where he finished down in fifteenth.
Hulkenberg was able to make an alternative three-stop strategy work to his advantage, after starting the race on the medium Pirelli tyre and leading for a spell before ultimately finishing eighth. By using the soft tyre for his final stint, he was able to overtake Kevin Magnussen before closing rapidly on Kimi Raikkonen ahead of him, finishing on the Ferrari driver’s tail. The German believes had he had one or two more laps, he could have passed both Raikkonen and possibly Fernando Alonso for sixth.
“It was quite a cool race and very satisfying to finish in eighth,” insisted Hulkenberg. “With a three-stop race you are always pushing, but my race was not too complicated and I was on my own for a large part of the afternoon. I also had a few nice battles and it was good fun.
“The car felt a bit better today compared to earlier in the weekend so I was more comfortable and really able to push. The team made the right calls on the strategy and we maximised our performance with the tyres in these very hot conditions. I finished just behind the two Ferraris and maybe with one or two more laps I could have finished sixth instead of eighth, but that’s racing.”
Team-mate Perez was never in contention in Brazil, admitting he was always on the back foot after missing all of Friday’s running due to a crash for reserve driver Daniel Juncadella in FP1. The Mexican started eighteenth and last on the grid after his penalty carried over from the United States, and then took a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane during the race, before ultimately ending up classified a lapped fifteenth.
“It was a difficult race and things didn’t really go my way all weekend,” said Perez. “With the track time we lost on Friday and the grid penalty yesterday, we always knew it was going to be hard to recover the lost ground.
“I tried my best to fight through in the race, but I lost a lot of track position following the five-second penalty and for most of the afternoon I was stuck in traffic. I couldn’t make any progress and the cars around us were on a similar strategy.
“So it has been a disappointing weekend and I just hope we can have a better result in Abu Dhabi.”