Nico Hulkenberg has heaped praise upon his team after an inspired two-stop strategy allowed him to finish today’s Malaysian Grand Prix in fifth place.
The Force India driver had qualified seventh in the wet session yesterday, but he did not appear to have the pace to build upon this result during the race on Sunday. A good start saw him move up to fifth ahead of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen, but Alonso soon demoted the German down to sixth. By going longer on his tires, Hulkenberg managed to stop just twice whilst every other driver made three changes, allowing him to move up the order and finish the race in fifth place.
“Today was a super team effort and I’m very happy with fifth place,” he explained. “We were the only team among the front-runners to do a two-stop race and we had good pace all afternoon. It shows that the team’s hard work over the winter is paying off and it feels great to be so competitive and fighting up at the front.”
The Malaysian Grand Prix is traditionally tough on tires due to the extreme heat, but Hulkenberg – who returns to Force India in 2014 after missing out on a move to Ferrari and Lotus – managed his well. He is now hoping to carry this form over to the next round in Bahrain, which is live on NBCSN next weekend.
“We showed that we could manage the tyres well, although I felt a bit more comfortable on the medium compound tyres than on the hards, but we always had the tyre management under control,” Hulkenberg explained. “So I’m feeling happy that we can take all these positives to Bahrain and leave Malaysia with a good helping of points.”
His teammate, Sergio Perez, suffered from a gearbox problem on his installation lap, meaning that he could not start the race at all on Sunday.