• Brazilian Grand Prix

Hulkenberg had the pace to win - Fernley

ESPN Staff
November 26, 2012 « Ferrari 'fought all the way to the bitter end' | Horner feared race-ending damage »
Nico Hulkenberg led for a large portion of the race before tangling with Lewis Hamilton © Sutton Images

Force India deputy team principal Robert Fernley says Nico Hulkenberg "had the pace to win" the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Hulkenberg was leading the race when a half spin allowed Lewis Hamilton through, but Hulkenberg stayed in touch and was trying to retake the lead in to turn one when he lost the rear of his car and made contact with the McLaren, taking Hamilton out of the race. Hulkenberg was handed a drive through penalty and eventually finished fifth but Fernley said he could have taken Force India's first ever victory.

"What a race! Certainly one of the most exciting races I've seen with drama on every lap," Fernley said. "For a while it looked like we were heading for a fairly-tale result with Nico leading for so much of the race and showing his skill in the tricky conditions. We had a great car today and had the pace to win, but it was not meant to be."

Along with Jenson Button Hulkenberg had a huge advantage over the field when the safety car was deployed for debris on lap 23, and Fernley said it was one of two decisions he didn't agree with.

"I would question the deployment of the first safety car, which we believe could have been covered under waved yellows. Equally, we were surprised by the drive-through for Nico, and feel it could have been investigated after the race because there were three cars involved.

"On behalf of the team I'd like to say goodbye to Nico and thank him for his contribution to our campaign this season. It has been a pleasure to have him drive our cars."