Force India's Sergio Perez says the Japanese Grand Prix was an "uphill battle" from the start for him.

Perez lined-up in ninth, but immediately lost out at Turn 1, when he was punted off the track by Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz.

The Mexican picked up a puncture as a result and that put him right out of contention, leaving him six places behind team-mate, Nico Hulkenberg at the chequered flag.

Related Articles

Speaking at the finish, Perez explained that the reason he got hit by Sainz was because he had to take avoiding action after Daniel Ricciardo and Felipe Massa touched.

"Unfortunately, my race was an uphill battle from the first corner: I saw Massa going slowly in the centre of the track and had to avoid him, and that's when I got the hit [from Sainz]," he recalled.

"We tried to recover and I did all I could to get back into the points, but even our best was not enough. It's a shame as our pace was really good, but with no safety car or any other incidents, the points were too far away."

"Twelfth place is a very disappointing outcome for a weekend that had started really well," he added.

Meanwhile, Force India deputy team boss, Robert Fernley, felt that Perez was an innocent victim.

"Sergio could do nothing to escape the incident at turn one: he moved to the right to avoid Massa, who was driving slowly, and he was hit by Sainz," Fernley pointed-out. "Sergio then avoided hitting the wall, but his race was heavily compromised by the puncture. He performed a solid comeback and showed very good pace, but the points were just out of reach."