Mixed day for Force India at Silverstone

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Sahara Force India started fourth and seventh on the grid for yesterday’s British Grand Prix but the main event didn’t work out for them as well as they probably hoped.

Hulkenberg (who started fourth) was able to squeeze out an eighth-place result for four championship points, while Sergio Perez (who started seventh) finished 11th after a collision on the opening lap with Jean Eric Vergne.

“After such a strong qualifying performance, we were naturally expecting more from today’s race,” said team boss Vijay Mallya.

“While circumstances played into our hands yesterday, today we were not so fortunate with Checo’s [Perez’s nickname] race heavily compromised by the contact with the Toro Rosso on Lap 1. The windy conditions also returned, which appeared to have an impact on our performance.”

Hulkenberg was able to maintain his streak of scoring in every Grand Prix this season but also noted how his car was perhaps compromised by the wind around Silverstone.

“It was quite a tricky afternoon,” he said. “My start was not great; I lost a couple of places, and after that, we didn’t seem to have the pace to fight for big points.

“I was struggling with the balance, which may have been related to the wind because it was very gusty out there. I had some good battles, especially in the early laps, but we were just missing the performance to really fight today.”

As for Perez, he said that it was “very difficult” to salvage his afternoon following his early run-in with Vergne.

“I struggled with the prime tire early in the race, which would have been the best time to make up the ground I had lost,” he continued. “The car felt a lot better on the option [tires], after our pit-stop, but our final stint was not enough to get back into the points.

“It was a real disappointment after the good qualifying position we had yesterday and I feel that we deserved some points from this weekend.”

Force India is now just one point ahead of McLaren for fifth in the Constructors’ Championship.

Valtteri Bottas on Silverstone pole; Nico Hulkenberg a surprising third

F1 Bottas Hamilton Silverstone
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Valtteri Bottas nipped Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in Silverstone qualifying Saturday to maintain the team’s hammerlock on F1 results this season while Nico Hulkenberg was a surprise in third.

Hulkenberg is filling in for Sergio Perez for the second consecutive race while the Racing Point driver recovers from coronavirus.

It’s the best F1 start since 2016 for Hulkenberg, who was left without a full-time ride after the 2019 season. He finished 20th at Silverstone last week when an engine problem on the grid prevented him ftaking the green.

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“The last seven to eight days have been crazy,” Hulkenberg said after qualifying. “This weekend I felt much better prepared. Q3 was just head down, full beans, and give it whatever I had.

“I’m a bit surprised to be standing here, but there’s a big smile on my face.”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen qualified fourth and will be among the field trying to derail the Mercedes duo that has won the first four races of an F1 season delayed because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Feels good,” Bottas said after nipping Hamilton by a few hundredths of a second on his final lap for his 13th career pole position. ” I just love qualifying especially, when it goes well. Proud to drive this car. The race pace is there, so our first job is to get a good start off the line tomorrow and go from there.”

The impressive lap came two days after Bottas, who won the season opener in Austria, announced a one-year contract extension with the team.

Mercedes also is set to begin negotiating a new deal with Hamilton, who has won the past three races in F1 but was disappointed Saturday.

“Valtteri did a great job, but for me, it wasn’t a perfect last lap,” he said. “I don’t think many teams will be doing a one-stop race tomorrow so let’s wait and see how things turn out.”