It was a dreadful afternoon for the Sahara Force India team at Austin, with both Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg retiring from the United States Grand Prix.
Perez’s race was over at the end of the first lap after clashing with the Sauber of Adrian Sutil at turn 15 that broke his front suspension, and the Mexican rued his retirement, especially with the vast numbers of Mexican fans who had travelled to Austin to support him were left disappointed.
“What happened today is really unfortunate,” said Perez. “I made a move on Adrian [Sutil] at turn 15 when he left the door open, so I went up the inside. Then Adrian started to close the door and I had to try and brake later than him. By doing so I was unable to avoid contact with Kimi [Raikkonen], which caused me to make contact with Adrian also. I just didn’t expect Kimi to be in that position.
“It’s a big shame because I had a great chance to keep up my run of points finishes and I was determined to do well in such an important race. I feel very sorry for all my fans who came to support me this weekend and I’m disappointed I could not give them a race to remember.”
Perez will take a seven-place penalty for the Brazilian Grand Prix next weekend and had two penalty points added to his licence for the incident after the FIA found him guilty of reckless driving.
“The driver of car #11 [Perez] could not reasonably have expected to complete the manoeuvre,” said the FIA statement. “His collision with car #99 [Sutil] was reckless.”
Hulkenberg was forced to retire when he lost power in his Mercedes engine, but his race had already been compromised by his team-mate’s crash on lap one when he ran over a lot of debris and was forced to pit for new tyres. He admitted his disappointment that he couldn’t score any points as Force India continue to battle McLaren for fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship.
“Unfortunately an early end to my race,” said Hulkenberg. “I lost drive and had no more power so the team told me over the radio to stop the car. Even before that it had not been an easy race with a very difficult first lap. I was right behind Sergio and Adrian when they crashed, and Sergio’s front wing just happened to fall right in front of my car. I ran over it, which caused damage to my car and the tyres. I dived into the pits and lost quite a lot of track position.
“After that I was running behind the McLaren’s on a similar strategy with the plan to run the softs at the end of the race. It’s always disappointing to end a race with retirement but fortunately we have the next race in seven days so I will soon be back in the car. Sao Paulo is one of my favourite races and hopefully we can have a better weekend there.”