A big accident in the opening lap of the 44-lap race benefitted Force India cars as they moved up from their starting positions. Hulkenberg was 12th on the grid.
Before this race, a fifth-place finish at the European Grand Prix, early this season, was Hulkenberg's best result.
Force India had started the race with 46 points, seven behind Williams. Now they are at 59 with a six-point lead over the Williams.
Since both the Sauber cars failed to get any points, Sahara Force India have closed the gap with the sixth-placed team to 21 points.
McLaren's Jenson Button won the second race of the season, starting from the pole position and was joined on the podium by Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, who were second and third respectively.
However it was disappointing race for India's Narain Karthikeyan, who smashed into the barriers after slipping in lap 31.
Hulkenberg held off stiff challenge from Mercedes' Michael Schumacher and Mark Webber and showed good pace on the straights. He was in contention of a podium place but for superiority of Vettel and Raikkonen.