x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Force India's beleaguered Vijay Mallya relieved to see some results

Vijay Mallya was able to breath a little easier after the Indian Grand Prix thanks to Nico Hulkenberg ensuring the Force India team earned points at its home grand prix for a second straight year, says Gary Meenaghan.

Nico Hulkenberg's eighth-place finish continues the recent run of good results Force India has seen.
Nico Hulkenberg's eighth-place finish continues the recent run of good results Force India has seen.

GREATER NOIDA, INDIA // After a troubling few days, Vijay Mallya, the co-owner of the Force India team, was able to sit back satisfied on Sunday night as Nico Hulkenberg recovered from a poor qualifying session to secure a second successive points finish at the team's home grand prix.

The Indian tycoon has faced vociferous criticism from local media because of his ailing Kingfisher Airlines, which has not paid staff for seven months and has been grounded since the start of October.

Mallya had been rumoured to be ready to avoid attending this weekend's Indian Grand Prix near Delhi, but appeared on Saturday in combative mood and took great pleasure in Sunday's result.

"I'm delighted to see Force India score points at our home race - for the second year in a row," he said after watching Hulkenberg climb from 12th on the grid to finish eighth.

"After qualifying we knew we had a big task ahead of us, but Nico rose to the challenge. It's a very satisfying result and it means we have scored points in the past six races - that's every race since the summer break."

The Silverstone-based marque's recent purple patch has seen them climb the constructors' standings and Mallya said with "a bit of luck" they can usurp Sauber for sixth place.

Mallya's team have 93 points while Sauber have 116 with the teams heading to the Etihad Airline Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this week.

"These are important points for our fight in the constructors' championship and we will continue to push very hard in the remaining three races," said Mallya, who added he will confirm the 2013 driver line-up next month.

Hulkenberg, who has been strongly linked with a winter move to Sauber in recent weeks, said he could "feel the support for the team from the grandstands", adding that it was "great we could score points for them".

Hulkenberg's teammate Paul di Resta had a less successful day as he could finish only 12th.

He is hoping for better in Abu Dhabi next Sunday.

It was Narain Karthikeyan, the only Indian driver in the field, who appeared to generate the most support from the impressive Indian crowd.

The 35 year old Hispania Racing Team driver finished 21st - the lowest place finishing car - but said he was just happy to see the chequered flag.

"I got off to a good start, but had an incident on the first corner and lost a chunk of my front wing," he said.

"The damage wasn't too severe, but we had problems with the balance of the car from then on.

"The greatest problem was the overheating of the brakes - the team warned me on the radio that I had to look after them because we had to make it to the end.

"And we did that: we got the most out of what we had and I'm happy to have finished my home race".

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

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