Sahara Force India’s Sergio Perez believes that Nico Hulkenberg’s five-second penalty was “useless”, after the German left the track to overtake Perez and maintained the position.
While Perez says the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix “wasn’t the most exciting race”, he was embroiled in a controversial moment on the opening lap when the Renault Sport F1 Team car of Hulkenberg cut the turn eleven chicane and maintained seventh place ahead of the Mexican.
Perez was vocal on the team radio that Hulkenberg should have given the position back, while the stewards awarded him a five-second time penalty. Hulkenberg however, extended his lead over Perez to over six seconds, nullifying the penalty and going on to finish the race in sixth, one place ahead of Perez.
“It wasn’t the most exciting race for me,” said Perez. “But I had a very busy first lap battling with Nico [Hulkenberg]. I think his penalty was very strange because I was ahead of him and he just cut the corner, gaining a big advantage and a position.
“He had more pace and in clean air he could just go and make up enough time to make the penalty useless. He should have just given up the position, as is required and as he did later in the race with Grosjean, and he would have had to overtake me on track.”
Despite being unhappy with Hulkenberg’s penalty, Perez reflects on the 2017 season fondly, having finished seventh in the world championship.
“I am happy with the result today and it was important to finish this year strongly.
It’s my first year at Force India without a podium, but I think we made a big step forward. I scored one point less than last year with just 20 races on the calendar instead of 21.
“The overall result is great: seventh in the drivers’ championship and fourth in the teams’ standings. I don’t think we could do anything better than that this year and I hope we can continue this way into 2018.”