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Exclusive Sergio Perez Q&A: No Ferrari move in 2012 23 May 2012

Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 11 May 2012 Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber C30 crashes heavily at the harbour chicane in qualifying.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6,  Monaco Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Saturday, 28 May 2011 Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber C31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 11 May 2012 Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber C31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 11 May 2012 Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber C31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 11 May 2012 Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, 21 April 2012 Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber finished second.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 25 March 2012 Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber C31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 25 March 2012 Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber C31.
Formula One Testing, Mugello, Italy, Day Three, 3 May 2012 Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber.
Formula One Testing, Mugello, Italy, Day Three, 3 May 2012

We all remember that horrible moment when Sauber’s Sergio Perez hit the wall in the qualifying for last year’s Monaco Grand Prix. Only weeks later he was back in the car, though he later confessed it took him longer to recover than he had let on. This weekend he is back for his second Monaco F1 experience and he has set himself a bold target: podium or victory. Maybe the track owes it to him. Speaking exclusively to Formula1.com, Perez discusses his Monte-Carlo prospects, his 2012 season and those Ferrari rumours that just won’t go away…

Q: Sergio, you said last year that you like the Monaco track - obviously the track had other ideas back then. What is your approach now?
Sergio Perez:
The same as last year! Of course, when you are out there you realize that you are so close to the wall the adrenalin flows and you know that a crash can happen any time, but I don’t worry and I really want to make it happen. I will put all my heart and soul into this race - for the team and for me. I am so motivated for my first Grand Prix here this weekend, as you know that I didn’t race in a Formula One car here in Monaco before. (laughs) I am so much looking forward to
Sunday - even if that sounds a bit strange.

Q: So you still like this track - and no hard feelings?
SP:
I definitely love this track - without restrictions of any kind…

Q: How will you go about that corner?
SP:
I definitely will try to brake later - but in the right position! Maybe I will say goodbye to the wall. (laughs)

Q: You started into the season strongly, with a second place in Malaysia, but since then nothing. Why?
SP:
Well, we have been very unlucky in two, no actually the last three races. In Shanghai I was fighting for position, but we were on a wrong strategy and had a problem with the front wing, which cost me, so from that point on my race was over as I couldn’t fight any more. In Bahrain we clearly didn’t have the pace and in Barcelona I was already in P4 after the start when Romain Grosjean hit me and caused a puncture. But I am sure our time will come again as we have a competitive car and we will fight for positions.

Q: Peter Sauber has said the team tend to start the season well but then find it hard to keep up the development speed. Is that already the situation - so early in the season?
SP:
No, not at all. After Barcelona - when many teams brought their updates - we still looked pretty competitive, so there are no development shortcomings. My guess is that we will be competitive for the whole season if we all keep on working together - in the factory and at the races.

Q: So there are no signs of the pace of development slowing?
SP:
No, not at all.

Q: You gained a reputation as something of a ‘tyre whisperer’. How is your relationship with the Pirellis now? Are the whispers falling on deaf ears?
SP:
Ha, the tyres… We have all learned by now that they play an extremely important role this season and, of course, I try to understand them as best as I can together with my engineers to sort out the car together with the tyres according to the needs of the respective track. But it is not only about making the tyres work. You have to be able to make them last that pinch longer than the rest - that’s the trick.

Q: So what is it that makes the tyres so much more of a mystery than last year?
SP:
There is substantially more degradation than 2011 - and you have to understand to what point they can keep up with the speed and at what point they are over the top. This can be one lap - even less - so you have to listen to them and not vice versa. Generally I have to admit that this year’s car is harder on the tyres than last year’s, so it’s a case of keeping your ears open and your eyes peeled. (laughs)

Q: That would imply that some tracks will suit you more than others. Can you specify which?
SP:
I think we should be very good at high-speed tracks. That’s where our car should be on top form…

Q: So not Monaco, with its many slow corners?
SP:
Well, Monaco is so special that I believe that our car could be good here. I think when setting up the car in a specific ‘Monaco mode’ that we will show good performance. Sure, we have to waste some intense thought on the traction - that I would assume is the main target for the next two days.

Q: The rumours about you switching to Ferrari mid season continue, especially after the Italian team’s increasingly public comments on Felipe Massa’s lack of performance. Is there any change from your side in this whole discussion?
SP:
No, not at all. And should that situation really come about I would reject it as I would not want to make a switch in the middle of a season. I think all this hype about a possible switch is massively blown up by the media.

Q: But the saying also goes that where there is smoke there must also be fire…
SP:
Rumours - nothing more. I believe that Felipe will bounce back and do a good job. He is a strong driver and he has a great team behind him. Once he’s bounced back all these stories will die at once.

Q: Sauber CEO Monisha Kaltenborn said not so long ago that you will stay where you are for the duration of your contract. On the other hand, the wishes of a team’s engine supplier are hard to ignore. Have there been internal discussions at Sauber?
SP:
I think that people should not mix up engines and drivers. These sort of rumours have been around for quite a while and, of course, I have a connection to Ferrari, to their driver academy of Ferrari. But my position is clear: I am driving for Sauber and I will remain here.

Q: There is supposedly no such thing as a watertight driver contract in Formula One, but could it be that you feel you could lose more than you might gain were you to make a switch now?
SP:
Exactly. And as I just said, I started the season with Sauber and will finish my season with Sauber - giving my 100 percent to my team.

Q: Coming back to this weekend, conditions could be unpredictable and it’s a track with many slow corners. What does that mean for you in terms of a possible result?
SP:
Qualifying is more important here than anywhere else. Overtaking is almost impossible here. With unpredictable conditions Monaco can become a lottery - just like playing at the famous Monaco Casino. But we are very motivated - I am very motivated - to finally do my first Grand Prix here. Tyres, of course, are paramount in connection with traction, especially in the last sector where stability of the car is paramount. So let’s all see how the super-soft tyres - it’s the first time we will use them in a [2012] race - influence the result.

Q: Taking your history, the car and the tyres into consideration, what would be your dream result for your first race here?
SP:
I would go home satisfied with a podium - or a victory! (laughs)

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