Nico Hulkenberg may have experienced a “lonely” Japanese Grand Prix, but had no complaints about the end result as he battled through the field to finish sixth on Sunday.
Hulkenberg struggled for pace in qualifying, resulting in a Q2 knockout which combined with a grid penalty left him 13th on the grid for the start of the race.
However, a good getaway from the line plus incidents for drivers ahead allowed the Force India driver to run eighth by the end of the first lap.
After exercising the undercut at the end of his first stint, Hulkenberg got the jump on the Lotus pair of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado to rise to sixth where he remained until the end of the race.
“A great result today and realistically sixth was the maximum we could achieve when you remember that I started from P13,” Hulkenberg said.
“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.
“By turn two I was up in eighth, close up behind the Lotuses and actually they were holding me up during the first stint. The team pitted me early to undercut them and we then out-raced them with our stronger pace.
“It was a lonely race for me, but effective and the result is very welcome. The team did a great job today and I think we deserved these eight points.”
In the sister Force India car, Sergio Perez was unable to recover from a first lap spin, finishing 12th at the end of the race.
“12th place is a very disappointing outcome for a weekend that had started really well,” Perez said. “Unfortunately, my race was an uphill battle from the first corner. I saw [Felipe] Massa going slowly in the centre of the track and had to avoid him, and that’s when I got the hit.
“We tried to recover and I did all I could to get back into the points, but even our best was not enough. It’s a shame as our pace was really good, but with no safety car or any other incidents, the points were too far away.
“It was still a good result for the team with Nico scoring points, something that will help us with our championship battle.”