Force India drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez rued early-race damage and excessive tyre wear for their poor showing at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday.
Bahrain has been a happy hunting ground for Force India with the Silverstone-based team having recorded regular points finishes and a podium result at this venue.
This year, however, turned out to be a different story with Hulkenberg and Perez finishing well down the pack in 15th and 16th places respectively, only ahead of Manor’s Rio Haryanto.
Hulkenberg damaged his front wing after a tussle in the opening lap, needing to pit early. “I made a poor start away from the line and was on the back foot going into turn one.
“Then suddenly three or four cars backed up on the apex and I nudged the back of somebody, which damaged my front wing and forced me to pit on lap one," he said.
Teammate Perez too had to pit on the second lap after colliding with Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz going into turn 1.
“Unfortunately, on lap two I made contact with [Carlos] Sainz, which ended up destroying my race,’’ the Mexican said.
“I was in his tow and when I went onto the marbles on the inside I just couldn’t stop the car enough."
Traditionally, Force India has been one of the teams to have a better tyre wear, but both drivers complained of excessive degradation while battling with rivals.
“We tried to recover and pull off a two-stop strategy to get back in the race, but it proved very difficult," Hulkenberg said.
“I was always in traffic and involved in lots of fights so my tyre degradation was very high.” - the German was the only driver to do four stops in the race.
Despite having three sets of fresh supersoft tyres in the bank and using it in the race, Perez suffered similar tyre degradation to his teammate.
Bouncing back in China
After a difficult weekend in Bahrain, Force India’s deputy team principal Robert Fernley has set his sights on returning to points at the next race in China.
“We will need to regroup, take the positives from the weekend, such as the pace we showed in qualifying, and bounce back in China to score the points we deserve,'' he said.
Hulkenberg echoed Fernley's views. "I don’t think we’ve seen our true pace [in Bahrain] because the first lap destroyed my race.
"We were out of sync with everybody and always playing catch up," the German said.