Force India drivers deliver season`s best finish

Valencia: Sahara Force India produced the season`s best performance with their drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta finishing fifth and seventh respectively in the incident-filled European Formula One Grand Prix on Sunday.

The result was the best for Sahara Force India, who collected 16 points, surpassing their efforts at the Monaco Grand Prix where di Resta had finished seventh and Hulkenberg was eighth.

Hulkenberg, who collected 10 points, improved upon his earlier best eighth-place finish at Monaco while di Resta, who got six points, had finished sixth at the Bahrain leg.

Sahara Force India are now at eighth place at the constructors` table with 44 points.

"A great result for everyone in the team and for me. Fifth place is a great achievement after a long and difficult race. The two-stop strategy worked well, but the last stint was very long and it was hard to hold off the cars behind me on fresher tyres in the last few laps," Hulkenberg said.

Hulkenberg, who started at eighth at the grid, gained three places to end the race 19.993 seconds behind winner Fernando Alonso of Ferrari who clocked one hour 44 minutes and 16.649 seconds.

Di Resta, who also gained three places after starting at 10th, was 22.866 seconds behind his Force India team-mate at the Valencia street circuit, which is notoriously tough for overtaking.

"We went very aggressive by only stopping once and in fact we were the only car to pull off this strategy. Of course, when you're stopping once you don't want a safety car period and it cost me some track position," di Resta said.

"But with the way the race unfolded we can't be too disappointed to finish seventh and it's great to have another two-car points finish," he added.

In an action-packed race, Lewis Hamilton of McLaren crashed out after a final lap collision with Pastor Maldonado of Williams, while defending double world champion Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull was forced to retire after dominating most of the race from pole position.

Di Resta is on 27 points now while Hulkenberg has collected 17 points so far.

India`s HRT driver Narain Karthikeyan finished 18th.

Sahara Force India's Team Principal & Managing Director, Vijay Mallya, was delighted with the result and said it will set the team up for its home race in Silverstone.

"A thoroughly enjoyable race today and I'm delighted to see our cars come home in fifth and seventh places, our strongest result of the season and Nico's best finish in Formula One.

"It was a rollercoaster race with many twists and turns, but I feel we have come away with the points we deserved given our performance level this weekend. Both drivers pushed hard, kept out of trouble and made their different strategies work.

"Paul recovered the ground he lost under the safety car and Nico had to drive most of the race without KERS, so it was an excellent performance by him," Mallya said.