Nico Hulkenberg says his charge up the field was somewhat hamstrung by the mid-race red flag but is satisfied by seventh place in the Australian Grand Prix.

The Force India pair of Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez blasted off the start grid from row five but their initial positive progress was minimised when Fernando Alonso and Esteban Gutierrez suffered a nasty smash on lap 18 which temporarily suspended the race.

Hulkenberg says the switch in tyre strategies by teams to one-stops ensured Force India would have to take the fight to its rivals on track and in turbulent air struggled to reproduce its impressive pace from pre-season testing.

"It was not an easy day and it's difficult to know what would have happened without the race being stopped and restarted," Hulkenberg said. "I think the red flag made things a lot more difficult for our planned one-stop strategy because it gave everybody around us the chance to reset and change their tyres.

"So that was a shame and it meant I was out of position and got stuck behind the Haas for most of the race. It was not easy to get close to Romain [Grosjean] and I had a lot of cars behind me, which meant I was always under pressure and having to defend as well as chase. Given all the circumstances, seventh place feels quite satisfying."