Force India made the most of a race of attrition in Melbourne to place both VJM8s in the points as Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez secured seventh and tenth respectively in the Australian Grand Prix.
With only 11 cars reaching the chequered flag Down Under, the duo took advantage of their 2015 challenger’s reliability to progress through the field as rivals faltered.
Having qualified 14th, Hulkenberg drove a flawless race en route to seventh, the same result he had secured on the road in Melbourne 12 months ago. Although the 27-year-old German refuses to get carried away, he remains pleased with the team’s overall performance in Australia.
“I am very pleased with today's result and starting the season with two cars in the points is always positive,” said Hulkenberg. “It was a good race; I didn't make any mistakes and, while the reliability of our car helped us take advantage of the problems of others, at this stage in the season it is important to capitalise on any opportunity.
“We were ready when it counted; we had a good strategy and we delivered under the pressure. In terms of performance we are not yet where we would like to be, but everyone is working really hard to get there and make our car quicker.”
Perez, who had braced for a painful race after qualifying, had a scrappier afternoon. Having overtaken Marcus Ericsson during the Safety Car period that followed Pastor Maldonado’s crash, the Mexican had to relinquish the position back to the Sauber.
This led to the Force India driver losing another spot to former McLaren team-mate Jenson Button, with whom he spent some 20 laps jostling for position before snatching the final championship point on offer.
“It was one of those unusual races where so many things happened, but I’m certainly happy to come away with a point and see Nico also score good points for the team,” said Perez.
“Unfortunately, after the safety car the FIA asked me to give a place back to Ericsson, which also meant dropping behind Button, and that was really painful for my race. Button was on the soft tyres and, although I was quicker, it was not easy to overtake and I lost a lot of track position.
“Still, I’m focussing on the positives of scoring a point from a difficult race, which is a good result for the team.”
Click here for the full gallery from the Australian Grand Prix