Both Sahara Force India drivers were handed ten-second penalties during the Malaysian Grand Prix for colliding with other drivers, with Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg both disappointed to have been penalised.
Perez was handed his penalty for a clash with the Lotus of Romain Grosjean, with the Mexican believing it was just a racing incident, but it ended up costing them the opportunity to fight for points, ultimately ending up thirteenth.
“We knew ahead of the race it would be a big fight to get close to the points and it turned out to be just the case,” said Perez. “I struggled with degradation in my first stint, on mediums, and that cost me a lot of time after the Safety Car.
“We had slightly better pace with the hard compound, but in the end it was not enough to get back in contention.
“The penalty didn’t help us either; I felt I had nowhere to go and couldn’t avoid contact with Romain. I thought it was a racing incident but it ended up costing us a lot.
“It’s a disappointing result but at least we were able to learn a lot from this race and this will help us going forward.”
Team-mate Hulkenberg was running in second place early in the race when he decided not to pit when the safety car was called out early in the race to clear the stricken Sauber of Marcus Ericsson, but fell down the order when his tyres began to fade. He was then handed a penalty when he clashed with the Red Bull of Daniil Kvyat at turn two, although the penalty looked harsh as the young Russian cut across the front of the German’s car.
The German ended the race down in fourteenth after taking his penalty and switching late from a two to a three-stop strategy following faster tyre degradation than he was expecting.
“It was a tough afternoon and I was always kept very busy with lots going on around me,” revealed Hulkenberg. “I was really struggling with the general balance and the car was sliding around, especially as the tyres became older.
“We chose not to pit during the early safety car, which gave me good track position, but it was not an easy decision. We were trying to make the two-stop strategy work, but it just wasn’t possible with the degradation and so we switched to three stops. Perhaps it would have been better to commit to the three-stop earlier, but I’m not sure it would have changed the result that much.
“The penalty for the contact with Daniil [Kvyat] also dropped me out of the fight for points. I went a bit wide in turn one and chose to go back on the inside going into turn two. I was quite well alongside him, but he probably didn’t think I would try to come back at him.”
As well as the ten-second penalties, both Perez and Hulkenberg have subsequently been handed two penalty points for their misdemeanour’s. It is Hulkenberg’s first points on his licence, but Perez now has three over the past twelve months.