Force India saw it impressive early-season consistency come to an abrupt end at the Hungarian Grand Prix, where both Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez failed to see the chequered flag after separate incidents.
The Silverstone team had been a regular in the points at every one of the first ten races in 2014, but left the Hungaroring empty-handed after a fraught afternoon that saw the end of Hulkenberg's similar 100 per cent scoring run as he clipped the rear of his team-mate's car in tricky conditions. Perez retired eight laps later in a violent accident of his own, catching the attention of those teams stationed near the point of impact with the pit-wall!
After a difficult start in wet conditions, Hulkenberg was looking to make progress on slick tyres when he made his ill-fated move on Perez heading into the final corner. Although the contact had little effect on the Mexican's car, Hulkenberg's race was done.
“It was not the best day in the office and I'm feeling very disappointed,” he sighed, “The track was drying out and I was quite close behind 'Checo' when I made contact with him at the final corner.
“The previous lap he had taken a much wider line, so I tried to overtake on the inside, but he took a tighter line and I couldn't back out of the move. I made contact with his car, lost my front wing and went straight on into the barrier. It was my mistake and I've apologised to the team. It's especially frustrating because there was a lot of potential in this race, but I guess it was one of those days when things didn't go our way.”
Although Perez was able to continue, he was to meet a similarly destructive end after putting a rear wheel onto the still-wet artificial turf bordering the circuit, and was pitched hard into the pit-wall. Fortunately, he was able to climb out unaided and unhurt, but the incident brought about another safety car period while the debris was cleared away.
“It's a very disappointing end to our weekend, just when it looked like we could have scored some big points,” he conceded, “I went a little wide on the exit kerb of the final corner, lost the rear and that was it – I was in the wall.
“Conditions were very difficult, the track was drying and improving, and it made you want to push to the limit, but there were some wet patches that could catch you out. It was a very unfortunate end to our race and I feel sorry for the team because they deserved some points today, [but] we'll take the positive elements of this weekend and get back in the points in the next race.”
Team principal Vijay Mallya insisted that the outcome should not detract from Force India's great start to the season which, allied to McLaren's inability to capitalise in Hungary, sees the Silverstone team remain fifth overall, one point ahead of its Woking rival.
“It is disappointing to come away from this weekend with nothing, especially as the race was shaping up nicely for us,” he said, “Both 'Checo' and Nico were on course for a points finish, but it was not our day. Sometimes, this is how motorsport is...”