Sun: Force India, McLaren, Williams, Haas

Date published: July 31 2016

Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg managed to pip William’s Valtteri Bottas as their heated battle on the Constructors’ Championship battle continues.

Force India
Nico Hulkenberg:
“Seventh was probably the best result available to us today, so it feels good to get the maximum from our race and score some important points. The team did a great job with the strategy because we went into the race believing a two-stopper was possible, but then made an early decision to switch to three stops. It was definitely the right way to go and allowed me to take seventh place in the final few laps. The tyre degradation was very high so most of the race was about managing the tyres. It was also quite a lonely and straightforward race because my main fight was against Bottas and we were running different strategies. So it’s a happy Nico and a happy team. We can look forward to the summer break and aim to carry this momentum forward in the second part of the season.”

Sergio Perez: “It’s safe to say today was the worst start in my whole career. I had a lot of wheelspin at the start and dropped back to P16 – so it was a long fight back through the pack. The team had to think on their feet and tweak the strategy to get me back into a competitive position. Degradation was quite high, especially when following other cars, and I spent a lot of time in the middle of the race fighting with Fernando [Alonso]. In the last few laps I was running out of tyres, but I knew Fernando was in a similar situation, so when I saw an opportunity I knew I had to take it. I honestly didn’t think we would score points after turn one, but we did it. We go on holiday now, proud of the incredible work we have done as a team in the first half of the season. I am confident we have a lot of good days ahead of us in the final nine races, but for now it’s important to get some rest.”

McLaren:
Jenson Button:
“I made a very good start and made up most of the places there. After that, it was just about looking after the tyres, which were degrading faster than we’d expected. We also had to do a fair amount of fuel-saving, too, particularly in the last 10 laps. In fact, I went off the circuit towards the end, just because I was doing so much fuel-saving that I hit the brakes and they were just stone cold. I hadn’t even been braking hard. At the end, I was able to pick off Valtteri, who was struggling on his tyres. It feels satisfying to have beaten both Williams, but eighth was as good as it was going to get today – we were 20 seconds behind the car in front, and there’s still quite a bit to go before we catch those guys. Still, we’ve made good progress: we’re consistently fighting in the points, and the team are doing a great job this year, bringing something new to pretty much every single race. I want to say thank-you and well done to the whole team for their efforts. I’m looking forward to coming back and fighting after the summer break – but, right now, I’m looking forward to a holiday!”

Fernando Alonso: “It was a very tough race, possibly one of the toughest so far this season, especially towards the end, when my tyres were finished and I had to do a lot of fuel-saving. We knew before we came here that it might be a tough weekend. Ultimately, I lost 10th position at the end of the race, so we didn’t score that last point that we were hoping for. But we just didn’t have the pace throughout the entire race. Getting ready for the Belgian Grand Prix is our priority now – hopefully we’ll come back stronger after the summer break.”

Williams:
Valtteri Bottas: 
“The race was going OK until Force India managed to get in front of us with the undercut. They did a three-stop and we tried a two-stop. There was definitely something wrong with our tyre calculations, because there was no way to get to the end on that set of tyres. The stint was just way too long and that really cost us some points today.”

Felipe Massa: “It’s such a shame that someone hit my rear right tyre on the first lap because it felt like something definitely happened to that area of the car. Perhaps a toe issue or something, because the car felt undriveable. Although I tried to carry on with the race, I was suffering massively. The pace was just so slow to the point where it was better to retire than carry on. Now, I’m going to take the summer break as an opportunity to relax with my family and prepare for the second half of the season to make it much better than the first half.”

Haas:
Esteban Gutierrez:
“It wasn’t an easy start. I had too much wheel spin and I was passed by quite a few cars. We were the only ones on soft tires, which was an aggressive strategy, so we were expecting to struggle for the first stint. After that I started to hold as much as I could and then began to fight back in the second stint. I was pushing all the way, trying to recover as much as I could, as well as trying to handle fuel saving. We’re not satisfied where we ended up, as we didn’t get the points we were aiming for. Now we head into the summer break, which will be good for the team after four races in five weeks. We’re all going to recharge our batteries and come back stronger, fighting for points at Spa.”

Romain Grosjean: “It wasn’t too bad. I think we had a good pace, but the middle stint behind the Renault saw my brakes massively overheat, and I lost them completely for a few laps. That clearly put us on the back foot. I couldn’t get by, and that cost us having a shot at points. We need to understand that, but generally the car behaved in the race. I’m happier this afternoon than I was yesterday. Overall, it’s been an awesome first half of the season. I want us to be able to come back and score regularly in the top-10. There are a few things we need to unlock. We’ve got the potential in the car. We just need to put it all together.”