Nico Hulkenberg: “I think we can be proud”

The Sahara Force India team secured their tenth double-points finish of the 2014 Formula 1 season in Abu Dhabi, with Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez taking sixth and seventh after running an alternative Soft-Soft-Supersoft tyre strategy to that of many around them.

Hulkenberg insisted the team should be proud of the result in Abu Dhabi, especially after the struggles they saw on track on Friday and after starting outside the top ten.

“I’m very happy with this result,” said Hulkenberg. “After struggling with the car on Friday and in qualifying, I think we can be proud of today’s race and our performance is a good sign for next year as well. The car performed at its best; I had a good balance and I had the confidence to really push.

“There were just a few laps after the pit stops when I was managing the tyres, but other than that it was flat out all the way. The long final stint on the supersoft tyres was brave, but it turned out to be a great strategy by the team and it really worked out well.”

Perez was able to finish seventh, but felt an earlier stop for the Supersoft tyres could have seen him jump ahead of Hulkenberg and challenge Jenson Button for fifth. The points he secured saw him join his team-mate into the top ten in the final standings, and feels happy with his season.

“The points today helped me to finish in the top ten of the championship, which is an important achievement after a great year,” said Perez. “I think we could have been even higher up today, but we probably stopped too late for the final pit stop. If we had been on the supersofts a bit earlier then maybe we could have been closer to Button at the end of the race.

“Looking back at the season overall I think everyone in the team has done a tremendous job and we should feel very happy about what we have achieved. I’ve enjoyed this season and now that I know the team I’m looking forward to coming back stronger in 2015.”

Team Principal and Managing Director Dr Vijay Mallya was proud of the team for their double points finish in Abu Dhabi, and for the best points haul in the teams’ history. He was particularly happy to finish ahead of three former World Champions in the form of Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen.

“Today we saw a captivating race that demonstrated how far we have come this season,” said Mallya. “Everyone in the team performed superbly, from the team on the pit wall that devised a very effective strategy, to the pit-crew who pulled off four good stops. Equally, the drivers were superb and Nico and Sergio didn’t put a wheel wrong on track.

“We battled with World Champions today and we beat them fair and square – we finished with both cars ahead of the Ferraris and one Red Bull. Nico’s penalty was harsh and it surely cost him fifth place, which would have been thoroughly deserved.

“Even though tonight’s result was not enough to claim back fifth in the championship, we can look back to our season with pride. We scored the highest points tally in the history of the team, 155 points, and we finished with both cars in the points on ten occasions.

“I want to congratulate everyone in the team, both here at the track and back in Silverstone, for their effort this season, and encourage them to take this year as a spur for even greater things to come in 2015.”