After surprising even himself with the pace Force India have enjoyed over the weekend, Sergio Pérez is looking ahead in the championship as he has “nothing to lose”.
Pérez is currently ninth in the championship standings, 16 points ahead of his teammate Nico Hülkenberg and 16 points behind eighth-placed Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull Racing Renault.
“I think my championship position is pretty much safe from behind, so I am looking ahead. We have very quick cars behind us so it will be interesting to see what we can do. I am sure we will improve from what we have seen from the long run pace. I don’t have much information because I had an issue with the brakes so I lost a lot of track time with it. I am still confident we can fight Kimi [Raikkonen]. Hopefully we can get him at turn one,” Pérez said after qualifying.
Despite not having the best long run times during the second free practice session, Pérez still has confidence that the car will perform come race time.
“The track suits the car. We had a poor weekend in Brazil that we learned from and that has made a difference this weekend. I think since yesterday we have found a good rhythm with the car so I am feeling very comfortable. Our long run pace is not that great so we will see what we can do.”
With Ricciardo starting a position behind Pérez in fifth position, and Valtteri Bottas in sixth, the Mexican has his work cut out for him during the race as both drivers posted more competitive lap times in their race simulations on Friday than the Mexican.
To be fair to Pérez, a brake issue did interrupt his running during FP2, however the times he posted once it was resolved were well off Riccardo and Bottas’ pace.
“I felt comfortable in the car from the start and the changes we made worked well,” Perez continued.
“We have plenty of data from Nico’s runs that we can analyse. The baseline set-up we worked on is already quite good, so we’re in good shape for the race.”
Images via Force India F1