By: Eastern Eye Staff
Sahara Force India clinched a historic fourth position overall, their best ever, in the Formula One Championships after Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez finished seventh and eighth respectively at the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday (November 27).
The team got 10 points from the race with Hulkenberg and Perez to grab six and four points, respectively.
With 173 points in their kitty, Force India secured fourth position in the Constructors’ Championships, 35 more than closest rival Williams, who secured just two points from Abu Dhabi with Felipe Massa finishing in ninth.
Force India, who had finished fifth with 136 points last season, got the better of McLaren and Williams, who have won the world title as many as eight and nine times respectively in the past.
In the Drivers’ Championships, Perez finished seventh overall with 101 points while team-mate Hulkenberg ended in ninth with 72 points.
German star Hulkenberg, racing for Force India for the final time before joining Renault in 2017, said: “It was quite a simple and lonely race actually, mainly racing with my teammate because the top six cars were just out of reach.
“Turn one was quite interesting because I got hit by Max [Verstappen], which damaged the floor of my car and made things a bit more difficult. Fortunately we had the pace to hold position and bring home the result.”
He added: “It’s great to end my time at Force India with a strong result and help the team finish fourth in the championship. Everybody deserves congratulations for the amazing job this year.
“I leave this team with lots of happy memories and Force India will always be a part of my life. I’ve learned a huge amount and they have made me a better driver. We’ve grown up together and I’m proud of what we have achieved.”
Perez commented: “I am pleased with my race. I finished where I started and it was quiet for most of it, but it got a bit tense in the final laps when I had to fend off Felipe [Massa].
“It was great to finish the season with some points and to end an incredible year with a good result. Now the season is over, I will go back to Mexico and enjoy some rest. It’s been a long and intense year and I am looking forward to some downtime with friends and family.”
Force India had virtually sealed their fourth position after securing 18 points from the rain-hit Brazilian Grand Prix last month.
“4th place in Formula 1 World Constructors Championship now secure for Force India. Thank you guys. You are the very best. Am so proud (sic),” Force India co-owner and team principal Vijay Mallya tweeted.
Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg grabbed his maiden Formula One world title by finishing second, behind his Mercedes teammate and arch rival Lewis Hamilton.
Starting 12 points clear of Hamilton, Rosberg drove superbly to produce a second-place finish and clinch his first championship by five points.
Reflecting on a successful campaign, Force India’s deputy team principal Robert Fernley said: “To end the season with two cars solidly inside the points and with fourth place in the constructors’ championship feels fantastic.
“It has been a tremendous year for us and it’s important to pay tribute to each and every member of the team for all their hard work and hours of dedication back at base and at the track. All the effort has paid off and we can now celebrate the best ever year in our history.
“Both drivers did a super job today, as they have done all year long. It’s great that Nico could end his time with us on a high note and we thank him for everything he has done during his five years as a Force India driver.
“Credit to Sergio, as well, who becomes the first Force India driver to cross the 100 points in a season milestone. He’s been exceptional and fully deserves to finish seventh in the drivers’ championship.”
Hulkenberg will be replaced by French youngster Esteban Ocon next season.