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Monaco magic - Mallya wants more as Force India celebrates "best ever" result in F1

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Monaco magic - Mallya wants more as Force India celebrates "best ever" result in F1
May 31, 2016, 3:38 PM

Beleaguered Force India boss Vijay Mallya has called on his team to go up to the next level after hailing his team’s “best ever result” in Mo...

Beleaguered Force India boss Vijay Mallya has called on his team to go up to the next level after hailing his team’s “best ever result” in Monaco. Sergio Perez scored a memorable podium to give the team its most prestigious Formula 1 result since the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix.

Although Perez has scored podium finishes at the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix and the 2015 Russian race, his third place last weekend was Force India’s first ever rostrum appearance in Monaco, which includes its previous iterations as Jordan, Midland and Spyker.

The team’s haul of 23 points, boosted by Nico Hulkenberg grabbing sixth place from Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg on the run to the line, was its biggest since the 2014 Bahrain race, where Perez came third and Hulkenberg finished fifth.

Belgian GP 2009

The team’s best outright result remains Giancarlo Fisichella’s second place at Spa in 2009, where he also started on pole.

Writing on Twitter, Mallya outlined his desire for the team to achieve more this season than it did in 2015, when it finished fifth in the constructors’ championship, its best result in eight years.

He wrote: “With 23 World Championship points scored at Monaco which is our best ever ForceIndiaF1 we are back in 5th place in the constructors.”

“In 2015 everyone said we punched above our weight ForceIndiaF1. We will continue to punch even higher. I have the best ever team spirit.”

Force India Monaco GP 2016

The team’s success in Monaco follows the updates it introduced at the Spanish Grand Prix earlier this month, which included a new front wing, floor and sidepod bodywork for the VJM09.

Both Perez and Hulkenberg showed good pace all weekend in Monaco, with both drivers making it through to the final segment of qualifying for the first time this season, with the latter starting fifth on the grid.

Sergio Perez

How did they do it? Perez podium “a very special moment”

Perez used a cleverly executed strategy to rise from eighth at the start to third. By pitting later for intermediates than most he avoided getting stuck behind those remaining on wets and an early stop for slicks enabled him to undercut Rosberg and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel into the final podium position.

The Mexican driver described his race in Monaco as one of his best: “A podium in Monaco is a very special moment. It’s one of my best ever races, especially when you see how difficult the conditions were today: you had to concentrate so hard and it was easy to make a mistake.

“The key to my race was the strategy and we got things just about perfect today. The first difficult decision was when to fit the intermediate tyre and we delayed this as long as possible. The team said it was my call when to come in and it paid off because we managed to jump a couple of cars, including my teammate.

Sergio Perez

“The switch to dry tyres was another key moment because I pitted early, a lap before Rosberg and Vettel, and managed to jump ahead of them. The soft tyres worked really well, but I knew I needed to look after them and it wasn’t easy because there was pressure behind from Vettel for most of the race.

Hulkenberg rues “huge missed opportunity”

Hulkenberg’s fifth place in qualifying was the highest he has achieved since Brazil last year, but the German driver lost valuable time in the race stuck behind the Williams of Felipe Massa after he switched to inters and he spent the second half of the race following Fernando Alonso and Rosberg before he stole sixth from his countryman on the final lap.

The 28-year-old, who has not finished in the top three in his entire 100-race career so far in F1, believes he had the pace to claim that maiden podium spot in Monaco.

Nico Hulkenberg

He said: “It was ultimately a disappointing race for me, despite getting back to scoring points. I feel the timing of our first pit stop was wrong and that cost me track position and put me straight into traffic. This effectively ruined my race, as I spent the rest of the afternoon stuck there.

“It’s very frustrating as I had the pace to be on the podium today, but this is racing and it’s just the way it often is in Monaco. I was able to finally get past Rosberg with a good move on the exit of the final corner: we were on worn out tyres, it started to drizzle and it was very tricky to keep the car facing in the right direction. I got a better exit out of the corner and I think I got him by just a car’s length.

“All in all, I still feel it’s a huge missed opportunity for me. The car was in the sweet spot, it gave me a lot of confidence and I just had a good feeling today, but it was not to be.”

Nico Hulkenberg

What did you make of Force India’s performance in Monaco? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.
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