Lonely but effective day for Hulkenberg at Suzuka

© XPB 

Nico Hulkenberg more than overcame his three-place grid penalty, climbing back into the points with a solid sixth place at Suzuka on Sunday.

The Force India driver finished qualifying in 11th place but then dropped down to 13th serving the penalty held over from Singapore for making contact with Felipe Massa.

That might have helped him to stay out of trouble going into the first turn of the race, when contact between Massa and Daniel Ricciardo contributed to Hulkenberg's team mate Sergio Perez going into the gravel, ruining his day.

By contrast, all the first lap mayhem set Hulkenberg himself up very nicely for the rest of the Japanese Grand Prix afternoon.

"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.

"A great result today and realistically sixth was the maximum we could achieve when you remember that I started from P13," he added. "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."

Hulkenberg's drive got the thumbs up from his boss, Force India's deputy team principal Robert Fernley.

"Sixth was the maximum he could have got today and it's just the result Nico needed after a difficult run of races," he said.

"Nico drove a tactically brilliant race: he made another great start to regain the ground he had lost through his grid penalty and then had a fairly lonely race.

"He executed our strategy perfectly, leapfrogging the two Lotuses during the first pit stop window, and from then on he worked hard to continuously increase his gap."

All-in-all, positive note for the team to end a busy month on, before heading to Russia for the next race on October 11.

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AS IT HAPPENED: Japanese Grand Prix

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