Nico Hulkenberg felt a podium was on the cards in the Brazilian Grand Prix, had it not been for a puncture that dropped him out of contention.
Hulkenberg was running in fourth place until lap 22, when his Force India picked up a puncture from debris on track. The German was forced to pit immediately under the safety car, falling down to 15th as a result.
Although, the Renault-bound driver was able to stage a supreme recovery drive to finish seventh, he believes another podium shot was lost in Interlagos.
“That was an intense race and I don’t know whether to laugh or cry because I think a possible podium slipped away today,’’ he said.
“I had great confidence in the car, felt comfortable and I had the pace to push and overtake. There were some scary moments in the race, especially when Kimi crashed in front of me. Some of his debris hit my car and caused a lot of damage.
“At least I survived that, but then I picked up a puncture from the debris, which was so frustrating because it dropped me down to the back of the field.
“Without the puncture, who knows where I might have finished? I’m happy and proud of myself and the team. We did a great job, but we were just missing a bit of luck.”
Although Nico Hulkenberg’s rostrum chances were extinguished early, his teammate Sergio Perez kept the hopes alive for Force India until the penultimate lap of the race.
Perez gave a tough fight to a charging Max Verstappen, but conceded that he had no answer to the Dutchman’s breathtaking pace.
“It’s a shame to lose a podium place in the last two laps, but Max [Verstappen] just had a different pace: he was the fastest on track and there was nothing I could do to keep him behind,’’ he admitted.
“Even though I am a bit disappointed, we can still celebrate a great race and an incredible result, especially considering the conditions we had out there today. Just getting to the finish line on a day like this feels like a victory, and to bring home fourth is a very important result.”
With Williams scoring a duck, Force India have strengthened its fourth position in the constructors championship.
by Rachit Thukral