Nico Hulkenberg's sixth place in the Brazilian Grand prix was enough to secure fifth overall in the constructors' standings for the Force India team, even after main rival Lotus was gifted extra points by Felipe Massa's belated disqualification.
Although the German's fear that his fifth position on the grid would come under threat from faster cars starting behind him came true by turn one – as both Valtteri Bottas and Daniil Kvyat got past the #27 machine – his team helped him regain some lost ground by pitting early and catching Red Bull with the undercut. Hulkenberg did his bit with a feisty display behind the wheel, eventually crossing the line in sixth spot, 16secs behind Bottas, whose grid position he had inherited after the Finn picked up a penalty in practice.
“The race today was fun, although I didn't have the best start and got some wheelspin, which dropped me behind Bottas and Kvyat,” Hulkenberg reflected, “Fortunately, I was able to get one of those places back with an aggressive early pit-stop, but that forced me to do two very long stints on the medium tyres, which was the main challenge of the day. We made it work, though, managing the tyres and delivering the two-stop strategy.”
Picking up eight points left Force India hoping that Lotus would fail to exceed five and, on the initial result sheet that appeared to be the case, with the Enstone team only managing ninth place with Romain Grosjean. Massa's post-race exclusion, however, not only promoted the Frenchman, but also allowed team-mate Pastor Maldonado into the top ten, but their gain still fell short of the target, confirming a best-ever teams' championship finish for Vijay Mallya's squad.
“I'm very happy with sixth place and with scoring the points that helped the team secure fifth place in the championship, which is great news,” Hulkenberg commented, “It's the best result in our history and shows the progress we have made over the years.
“This fifth place is a result of all the hard work from everybody in the team and we should feel very proud of what we have achieved together. I'm now looking forward to Abu Dhabi and ending the season on another high note.”
Deputy team principal Robert Fernley echoed Hulkenberg's delight, despite not being able to celebrate the culmination of a second-half fightback with the reworked VJM08B by getting two cars in the points at Interlagos.
“The race itself leaves us with mixed feelings as we wanted to seal this result with a double points finish but, while Nico drove very well, making a two-stop strategy work and withstanding a lot of pressure in the closing stages, 'Checo' [Perez] missed out on the top ten despite fighting hard this afternoon,” Fernley noted, “However, everybody in the team is delighted that we have secured fifth place in the championship with a race to spare.
“It's the reward for all the hard work put in by everyone back at the factory in Silverstone, at the wind tunnel, and here at the track. We have been through a lot this year, but we never let our target out of our sight and today we can celebrate. Now we head to Abu Dhabi to close off this record-breaking season on a high and secure top ten positions in the drivers' championship for both Nico and 'Checo'."