New Delhi: The Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix last weekend was the best-ever race for Force India but it still left their highly rated driver, Nico Hulkenberg, "disappointed".
Sergio Perez pipped Hulkenberg to record Force India`s second-ever podium finish at a floodlit Sakhir Circuit. Perez, who had scored a point to Hulkenerg`s 18 in the first two rounds, beat his teammate and Red Bull`s Daniel Ricciardo to finish third in a thrilling 57-lap race.
"It was a great result for the team but personally it was disappointing to finish fifth. I made a mistake in the qualifying and that cost me eventually," Hulkenberg told PTI from Zurich.
Hulkenberg, who finds himself in a "surprising" third place in the drivers` standings with 28 points, had started 11th on the grid to Perez`s fourth.
Asked whether he deserved the coveted podium more than his Mexican teammate after being the more consistent of the two, Hulkenberg said: "I am disappointed that I could not come in the top three but in Formula 1 it is not about what you deserve, you have to deliver on the day, you have to get the job done. I could not do that and Sergio did it well." The team stayed back in Bahrain for the first mid-season test, which concluded yesterday.
Hulkenberg said the two-day testing went well though there was enough scope of improving the car further.
"The team tested some aero parts and overall there was some progress made. I hope these updates keep us competitive. The car had pace on all three tracks having different characteristics and it something that gives us confidence going ahead. However, we still need to work on the rear grip."
Force India, one of the four teams using Mercedes engines, are a surprise second in the team standings behind the Silver Arrows but ahead of Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren.
Though it is still early days and top teams are expected to improve rapidly, Hulkenberg felt his team can continue to challenge for podiums.
"We all know how quickly things change in Formula 1. Top teams are bound to improve sooner than later but I don`t know if someone like Ferrari can things around quickly. You can`t tweak the engines overnight. We have shown good pace and we can expect similar performance in the next races," said the 26-year-old, who is yet to make the podium in four seasons despite coming close with a couple of fourth-place finishes.
The F1 caravan now heads to fourth round of the championship in Shanghai from April 18-20.