Saraha Force India enjoyed one of their best ever Grand Prix when Sergio Perez drove to a superb third at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday.
It was Force India’s first podium for five years as the Silverstone team continued their impressive start to the 2014 F1 World Championship.
Nico Hulkenberg, driving the second Force India VJM07-Mercedes, finished the race in fifth to complete a terrific weekend for the team, which now sees them hold second position in the constructors’ standings.
In the best race of the season so far, Perez held off a strong challenge from his team-mate and then engaged in frantic battles to maintain his podium, finishing behind Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
He said afterwards: “What a feeling. This was a great race and I’m so happy for all the team. The podium is an amazing achievement and one of the most special results in my whole career. This is a massive confidence boost, especially after the very hard season I had last year. This is the hardest-fought podium I have ever had.”
Hulkenberg was also in buoyant mood after the race, saying: “It was a great day for the team and I’m very happy.
“The battle with Sergio was clean and fair and when you are fighting for the podium you always give everything. It was good fun and I’m really looking forward to the next race.”
Vijay Mallya, team principal at Force India, added: “This is one of the greatest days in the history of our team. It’s been a long time coming, but is very satisfying to see Force India back on the podium. I really believe we have not seen the best yet.”
For the Bicester-based Toro Rosso team, Daniil Kvyat was unable to make it three point-scoring finishes from as many races as he finished 11th.
The 19-year-old Russian said: “My Toro Rosso felt good but I was just not fast enough to make it into the top 10. I think the car is capable of finishing in the points on a regular basis and I would like to do that during the next race in China.”
Jean-Eric Vergne, in the the second Toro Rosso, was a retirement after his car suffered damage following a collision shortly after the start.
“The handling of the car was compromised,” said Vergne. “Sadly it was not possible to continue.”