Force India rallies to double points score in Abu Dhabi

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ABU DHABI – Force India ended the 2014 Formula 1 season on a high in Abu Dhabi today as both Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez finished in the points.

After a strong start to the year, Force India had been ahead of McLaren in the race for fifth in the constructors’ championship, only to struggle in the second half of the season and fall behind the British team.

Although it could not re-overtake McLaren in Abu Dhabi despite double points being on offer, it did pick up its biggest points haul of the season, scoring 28 points as Hulkenberg finished sixth and Sergio Perez came home just behind in seventh.

“Today we saw a captivating race that demonstrated how far we have come this season,” team owner Vijay Mallya said. “Even though tonight’s result was not enough to claim back fifth in the championship, we can look back to our season with pride. We scored the highest points tally in the history of the team, 155 points, and we finished with both cars in the points on ten occasions.

“I want to congratulate everyone in the team, both here at the track and back in Silverstone, for their effort this season, and encourage them to take this year as a spur for even greater things to come in 2015.”

Hulkenberg was pleased with his finish to the 2014 season, and believes that Force India is in a good position heading into the 2015 season.

“I’m very happy with this result,” Hulkenberg said. “After struggling with the car on Friday and in qualifying, I think we can be proud of today’s race and our performance is a good sign for next year as well. The car performed at its best, I had a good balance and I had the confidence to really push.”

Sergio Perez was confirmed to be staying at Force India for 2015 last night, and believes that the team should be proud of its achievements this year.

“Looking back at the season overall I think everyone in the team has done a tremendous job and we should feel very happy about what we have achieved,” Perez said. “I’ve enjoyed this season and now that I know the team I’m looking forward to coming back stronger in 2015.”

Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

Mark Thompson/Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas won a chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix while six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after getting a late time penalty Sunday.

The Formula One race was interrupted three times by a safety car, and nine of 20 drivers abandoned, including both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon – who tried to overtake Hamilton on the outside with 10 laps left, touched wheels and flew off track.

Hamilton was given a 5-second time penalty for causing the collision, having earlier been hit with a three-place grid penalty after an incident in Saturday’s qualifying was reviewed by stewards.

SHOW OF SUPPORT: Drivers take knee before race

Bottas led all 71 laps in the eighth victory of his career. It was the second consecutive victory in the season opener for the Finn, though he won four months earlier in 2019 after this season’s start was delayed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lando Norris of McLaren F1 celebrates after his first podium finish (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).

Bottas started from pole position and Hamilton from fifth, but it looked like a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers as has been the case so often in recent years.

But late drama in Spielberg ensured otherwise and Hamilton’s time penalty meant Charles Leclerc took second place for Ferrari, and Lando Norris sent McLaren’s garage into raptures – and threw all social distancing rules out of the window amid the euphoria – with third place.

It was the 20-year-old British driver’s first career podium, and his superb final lap was the fastest of a dramatic season opener.

Norris became the youngest British driver to secure a podium finish and the third-youngest ever in Formula One.

Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).