Force India blames red flag for ruining one-stop strategy

Force India rued the untimely red flag that destroyed its one-stop strategy in Australian Grand Prix.

The Silvertsone-based outfit had called in both Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez just a lap before the stoppage, which proved to be a decisive factor in the grand prix's outcome.

Hulkenberg was running seventh after making up three places, but dropped to 10th after the stop, having to recover from then on in the race.

The German, for the major part of the race was stuck behind Haas' Romain Grosjean, who benefitted from changing tyres during the red flag.

"It was not an easy day and it’s difficult to know what would have happened without the race being stopped and restarted," said Hulkenberg after the race.

"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."

Eventually, Hulkenberg couldn't get past the Haas driver, the American team scoring points on its debut, leaving the Force India driver seventh.

"It was not easy to get close to Romain [Grosjean] and I had a lot of cars behind me [Valtteri Bottas, Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen], which meant I was always under pressure and having to defend as well as chase.

"So, given all the circumstances, seventh place feels quite satisfying," he added.

Deputy team principal, Robert Fernley felt the red flag benefited the teams around it, making Force India's life all the more difficult.

"Our strategy was shaping up very nicely with the plan to stop both cars only once," he said.

"But the red flag reset the strategies of everyone around us and made our task much more difficult.

"Making our pit stops just prior to the safety car also cost us track position."

Perez disappointed

Perez, who qualified ahead of Hulkenberg in ninth, lost a couple of positions at the start but bounced back into the points before hitting trouble with tyre degradation and brake issues.

"It's a real shame to finish outside of the points," he said. "I spent my first stint behind [Fernando] Alonso, who was on a faster compound, and being stuck in the dirty air destroyed my tyres.

"Unfortunately there was a very similar situation after the restart because I was passed by Jenson [Button], who was on supersoft tyres, and that cost me a lot of time," he added.

Towards the end, the Mexicand dropped out of the points, running 12th behind Renault's Jolyon Palmer.

He then lost a position to Kevin Magnussen, eventually finishing 13th, after the team advised him to take care of his overheating brakes.

"I had an issue with overheating brakes, probably because I spent most of the race in traffic, but [thankfully] we still managed to finish the race."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Event Australian GP
Track Albert Park Circuit
Drivers Nico Hulkenberg , Sergio Perez
Teams Force India
Article type Breaking news