There were celebrations aplenty in the Force India hospitality after the Singapore Grand Prix after the team claimed a precious eight championship points courtesy of Sergio Pérez and Nico Hülkenberg’s charging drives to seventh and ninth places respectively.
It marked the team’s biggest points haul since June’s Austrian Grand Prix, and with McLaren’s solitary point for Kevin Magnussen’s tenth place, proved enough to move them back ahead of the Woking team into fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship standings.
“To come away from Singapore with eight points in our pocket and fifth place in the championship is a fantastic result,” team principal Vijay Mallya smiled afterwards.
“It was an eventful race, especially for Checo, and it was only in the closing laps that the race came back to us. We had to make some difficult decisions on the pit wall today, but I think on the whole we made the right ones. There was a bit of luck, too, but we made the most of our opportunities and Checo and Nico drove extremely well. It sets us up well for the final five races where it’s crucial that we continue to score well with both cars.”
Pérez’s run to seventh marked an impressive recovery for the Mexican, who made four visits to pit lane after tangling with Adrian Sutil and breaking his front wing on his out-lap from his second pit stop. The accident triggered a safety car to mop up the shards of his nose that he’d littered along the width of the track, but the field compression allowed him to come back to the midfield and ultimately claim seventh with some bold overtaking moves on fresher tyres in the final laps.
“The race really had everything for me and the final laps were very enjoyable. I was very happy with our performance today and, most importantly, we finished ahead of our direct competitors,” Pérez said afterwards.
“Those in front of me at the end had big tyre degradation, but this affected me as well. When I caught the train ahead I didn’t have much grip either and this made each one of the overtakes a bit more difficult. We managed our tyres perfectly and to go from P15 to P7 was the reward we deserved. It was a great result for the team; they did a fantastic job with the strategy and it worked very well for both Nico and me.
“Today was one of those results where the race gives you a fantastic feeling: it’s more than just scoring the points – it’s about how you gained the result. Everything gets thrown at you but you don’t give up and come back strongly to get the points.”
Teammate Hülkenberg was unlucky not to have claimed two more points for eighth place, after Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen just held out by 0.02 seconds in a sprint to the finish line.
“It’s good to be in the points and from a team perspective it’s been a successful day. This is always a difficult race, especially from a strategic point of view, and maybe we could have achieved even more today,” the German added.
“After the safety car I had to do a 30-lap stint on the soft tyres and like most of the cars ahead I was running out of grip towards the end of the race. With hindsight it would have been better to pit again for fresh tyres and we probably could have finished even higher up, but it’s always a difficult decision for the team with the information we had at the time. The good news is that we got two cars home in the points.”
Image via Sahara Force India Formula One Team