Sahara Force India F1 Team driver Nico Hulkenberg was happy to come home in the points at Sunday’s Mexico Grand Prix, after a last minute spin to avoid the Scuderia Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen could have been a lot worse.
Having made a good start, the German was able to maintain his fifth place relatively easily, managing his tyres and pace for the majority of the race.
“Definitely not a bad effort today and the best result we could hope for in regular circumstances.
“I made a great start, but once the pit stops were out of the way, it turned out to be quite a lonely afternoon for me. This allowed me to manage my tyres and my pace.”
With five laps to go however the action started to hot up for Hulkenberg, when he was caught by an advancing Raikkonen on much fresher tyres than the Force India drivers 60 lap old ones.
With little grip available to him, the German had done well to fend the Finn off for so long, but having now had enough of being stuck behind the Force India, Raikkonen made his move around the outside at Turn 4.
Unable to stop the VJM09, Hulkenberg was forced to take evasive action, spinning the car to avoid a collision with the Ferrari as it turned in on him. Had he not been so quick to react, a crash was more than likely.
“At the end, the battle with Kimi [Raikkonen] was always going to be difficult, because he had a massive tyre advantage over me: I was surprised we could keep him behind for so long.
“I tried to defend as hard as I could on the inside, but braking on a dirty line with 60-lap-old tyres is quite tricky! He turned in on me and there was no way I could stop the car, so I forced it into a spin to avoid a crash.”
Having had one of his best qualifying sessions of the season on Saturday, where he ended up fifth on the grid, Hulkenberg was pleased with the overall weekend.
The German finished ahead of both Williams Martini Racing drivers, whilst team-mate Sergio Perez was behind the pair in tenth.
The result means that Force India extend their lead over the Grove based squad for fourth place in the constructors’ championship to nine points, wrapping up a solid weekend.
“In the end, it was a good weekend: qualifying was my highlight and we’ve come away with a solid result today.”
“We leave Mexico having strengthened our fourth place in the constructors’ championship, so there is plenty to smile about tonight.”