An eventful Monaco Grand Prix saw Force India score six hard-earned points, although Adrian Sutil could be grateful for escaping the multi-car crash that brought out the red flag with six laps to run.
The German triggered the event after running wide under pressure at Tabac, and then attempting to get his hobbled VJM04 back to the pits for repairs. As he slithered into the Swimming Pool section, friend and rival Lewis Hamilton was forced to check up, causing a chain reaction that resulted in Jaime Alguersuari riding up over the back of the McLaren and Renault's Vitaly Petrov ploughing into the wall. Sutil, however, managed to avoid the pile-up and pitted for attention to his right-rear corner while the field circulated behind the safety car.
Prior to the incident, he had been in the thick of the fight for points, having taken advantage of an earlier safety car to make what would have been his lone tyre change of the race. The decision to pit at that point allowed him to retain fourth position and, although he lost that place to a determined Kamui Kobayashi after the Sauber driver lunged for a gap at Mirabeau, points appeared a certainty.
As his tyres continued to wear, Sutil dropped another couple of spots, eventually being pushed wide and into a brush with the barriers at Tabac, which precipitated the pile-up and, ultimately, the red flag that transformed the face of the race.
“I started the race on the prime tyres and our plan was to do a one-stop strategy," Sutil confirmed, "When the first safety car came out, I pitted to take the option tyres and I knew I would be on them for a very long time. I tried to make them last, although they dropped off with about 15 laps to go and that's when I had a big train of cars behind me. It was then that I ran wide on the marbles at turn twelve, which gave me a right rear puncture.
"That's when the safety car came out and I pitted to change tyres [for a second time], so I didn't lose too much ground. I was in eighth when the race restarted and ended the race in seventh. It's a great result for the team and we're all very happy because we've been waiting a while for this. I have a lot of great memories here in Monaco, and this is another special moment to savour."
While Sutil salvaged points - and gained a reprimand for his battle with Kobayashi - rookie team-mate Paul di Resta endured a baptism of fire on his Monaco debut. The Scot appeared a little desperate at times, collecting a couple of cars as he attempted to make his way up the order, and running for some time with heavy damage to the nose of his car.
“I think it was all running quite smoothly to begin with, and our strategy seemed to be going well," di Resta reported, "After my first pit-stop, the team told me that, to make the strategy work, I needed to pass Alguersuari, so I tried to overtake him at the hairpin. That's when I made contact and damaged my front wing, which is why I had to make an early second stop. I have to hold my hands up for this accident because I was probably a bit too ambitious. It's a shame because the car was working well and without this incident I think I could have scored some points.”
Team principal Vijay Mallya conceded that di Resta had perhaps been too impatient, but praised Sutil for making the team's strategy pay off.