Force India’s Robert Fernley: “We had a pretty disastrous first lap”

Sergio Perez - Credit: Sahara Force India

Robert Fernley reflected on what was a terrible opening lap of the United States Grand Prix for the Sahara Force India F1 Team, with Nico Hülkenberg retiring and Sergio Perez being spun to the back of the field by Daniil Kvyat.

The deputy Team Principal of the Silverstone-based team first saw Hülkenberg being squeezed by Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas into turn one, which broke the suspension on the German’s car, and then at turn eleven, Kvyat hit the back of Perez’s car, with the Mexican resuming the race down in seventeenth.

Force India showed strong pace throughout the weekend at the Circuit of the Americas, and Fernley admitted to being disappointed that, despite a fight back to eighth place for Perez, the team could not score more than just the four points.

“We had a pretty disastrous first lap – not for the first time this year,” said Fernley. “Nico was eliminated in turn one as he got squeezed between Bottas and Vettel. The resulting contact broke the steering arm and forced us to retire the car.

“Later in the lap, Sergio was hit by Kvyat going into turn 11 and he dropped to the back of the field. Despite picking up damage to the floor, he staged a remarkable recovery drive to finish eighth.

“To be leaving Austin with just four points is disappointing, especially considering the speed we had in the car this weekend. That said, we’ve only dropped a couple of points in the fight for fourth place in the constructors’ championship and we take encouragement from the car’s competitiveness across the weekend.

“It means we can go to Mexico confident of delivering a similar level of performance.”