Force India starred in Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix to leapfrog Williams in the Formula 1 constructors’ standings as Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez finished fourth and fifth respectively.
Force India arrived at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps hopeful of cutting the gap to Williams in the race for fourth place, having made significant inroads over the races before the summer break.
Hulkenberg and Perez both qualified inside the top 10 at Spa before a clash at the start between Max Verstappen, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel lifted them further up the order.
Hulkenberg ran second briefly before slipping behind Daniel Ricciardo into P3, where he remained before making his first pit stop shortly before a red flag period.
Hulkenberg kept up a good pace throughout the race, rising back up to third when Lewis Hamilton made his final pit stop on lap 32.
However, with Hamilton running on fresh tires, Hulkenberg was powerless to stop the Briton taking the final podium position, leaving him to settle for fourth place at the checkered flag.
“Good day in the office, pretty happy. Overall a good race,” Hulkenberg told NBCSN after the race.
“Massive team result, fourth and fifth, to beat the Ferraris and a Red Bull in the circumstances was pretty good. You have to get the points.
“Bit unfortunate and disappointed on my side with the red flag. It was going really well in second and I was gapping the field. But it neutralized the whole race when I was in second. Made it a bit harder. Still happy otherwise.
“We’re ahead of Williams now which is good news, but still eight races to go. Keep our heads down and keep going.”
Teammate Perez started sixth and remained in the mid-points positions before a late charge took him past Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso to finish fifth.
“It’s been a great day for the team and I am very pleased to finish fifth, but it was quite a tough race from the start,” Perez said.
“I chose a wide line going into turn one, but had to go far on the outside to avoid the first corner accident and that cost me a few positions. I dropped down to ninth and that compromised my race.
“I managed to make some good progress early on, but every time I switched to new tires I found myself having to put a lot of stress on them as I needed to attack Felipe then Fernando. I still managed to make my way through and bring home a good result for the team.
“Moving to fourth in the constructors’ championship is a fantastic achievement for us, but we can’t get carried away because there’s still a very long way to go in the season.
“Hopefully we can keep our momentum going and keep scoring strongly.”
Team owner Vijay Mallya expressed his pride over the result on Twitter after the race, with Force India moving two points clear of Williams in the constructors’ championship.
The result also saw Force India continue its love affair with the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. The track was the site of its only F1 pole to date and first podium in 2009 courtesy of Giancarlo Fisichella, as well as another fourth-place finish for Hulkenberg in 2012.