Hulkenberg elated to outscore both Lotus drivers

Force India made further inroads to safeguard fifth in the constructors' championship in the Japanese Grand Prix after Nico Hulkenberg finished sixth ahead of both Lotus drivers.

Hulkenberg elated to outscore both Lotus drivers
Pastor Maldonado, Lotus F1 E23
Nico Hulkenberg, Sahara Force India F1 VJM08
Nico Hulkenberg, Sahara Force India F1 VJM08
Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India F1 VJM08
Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India F1 VJM08 runs wide at the start of the race
Nico Hulkenberg, Sahara Force India F1
Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India F1 VJM08
Nico Hulkenberg, Sahara Force India F1 VJM08
Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India F1 with Tim Wright, Sahara Force India F1 Team Race Engineer on the grid
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W06 leads at the start of the race

Although Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado both scored points, finishing seventh and eighth, Hulkenberg's sixth place means the Silverstone-based team takes a lead of 17 points over Lotus to the Russian Grand Prix.

Hulkenberg was happy to have outraced both Lotus drivers, particluarly after starting the race from 13th due to his penalty carried over from Singapore.

The German made five places on lap one to slot behind the two Lotus drivers in his first stint. "I made a really good start and jumped a couple of cars away from the line, and then stayed on the inside going into turn one, which turned out to be a good decision," he said.

"By turn two I was up in eighth, close up behind the [two] Lotuses."

A strategic move to pit Hulkenberg early paid off as the undercut worked and the Force India driver moved ahead of both Grosjean and Maldonado after the first stops.

"The team pitted me early to undercut them and we then out-raced them with our stronger pace. The team did a great job today and I think we deserved these eight points," a smiling Hulkenberg added.

Lotus conceded that they just didn't have the pace to match Hulkenberg, Trackside Operations manager Alan Permane stated that Force India looked "stronger" than them.

Grosjean agreed: "We were a little bit slow against the Force India. We tried to fight Hulkenberg but couldn’t."

Perez disappointed

While Hulkenberg enjoyed at Suzuka, teammate Perez had a hard race finishing 12th, ending his three-race point scoring run.

At the start, while avoiding Felipe Massa, Perez's right rear tyre touched with Carlos Sainz's front wing, which threw Perez in the air.

As a result, he went off-track, suffering a puncture and limping back to the pits for an unscheduled first stop.

"I saw Massa going slowly in the centre of the track and had to avoid him, and that's when I got the hit [from Sainz]," the Mexican explained.

"We tried to recover and I did all I could to get back into the points, but even our best was not enough."

After his last stop, Perez was involved in a hefty battle with Sauber's Marcus Ericsson. The Swede defended well from Perez, but a small mistake allowed the Mexican to pass with three laps to go.

Unfortunately for Perez, it was too late in the race as 11th place Fernando Alonso was 12 seconds up the road and 10th place man Sainz a further 14 seconds.

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