Home - The Official Formula 1 Website Skip to content

Exclusive Sergio Perez Q&A: It’s been tough but I’ve learnt a lot 19 Apr 2013

Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren MP4-28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 19 April 2013 Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren MP4-28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 19 April 2013 (L to R): Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren and Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 19 April 2013 Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren MP4-28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 19 April 2013 Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 19 April 2013

When rising star Sergio Perez - 13th fastest in Bahrain on Friday - made the switch from Sauber to McLaren for 2013, he hoped it would be an immediate move into championship contention. Unfortunately, thus far it’s been anything but, with the Woking team slipping down the order as they struggle to get to grips with the bold design of their new car. Perez may not be pleased with his results - two points from three races so far - but insists he is learning valuable lessons that will serve him well when things do improve…

Q: It was probably not an ideal Friday, but you look quite satisfied…
Sergio Perez:
Yes, the good news is that we’ve been able to complete our programmes in both sessions and that leaves us satisfied for today. It was a bit unfortunate that I put my option tyres on the car very early so my guess is that I could have done a slightly better time. But in reality the timesheet shows where we are right now.

Q: In terms of strategy, what’s the plan for the weekend? Could stopping one time less than the others help you out?
SP:
Well, we will have to come up with a plan for the race as I predict that we will be fighting to make it to Q3. I think our aim must be to deliver a good race and bag some points. That is a realistic target. It would be the icing on the cake if we could also make it into Q3.

Q: From what we’ve seen so far the road to Formula One glory seems rockier than you might have guessed. How far from your expectations has the reality been?
SP:
Very far. Extremely far. But I also have to say that I’ve learnt a lot in the last couple of months and over the first three races, so I can say that I’m a better driver now than I was. At the moment it is difficult to perform with the car. I have struggled to get the maximum out of the car especially at the last race in China. But of course I am confident that I will be able to turn things around and then success will come for the team and me. Sooner or later.

Q: What is it with you and the MP4-28? It doesn’t look like love at first sight…
SP:
Yes, we have a struggling relationship at the moment, but you have to say that I have done two reasonable races and had one bad weekend. I think I had a pretty good debut - not in terms of result but in terms of performance. I finished the race two seconds off my team mate, who won the Australian Grand Prix last year with a very difficult car, so I would say that this was quite a good debut. In Malaysia I had a problem with the suspension and it was a really bad weekend in Shanghai. I struggled. Taking all that into account I have to take the positives. I learnt a lot over that extremely difficult weekend and that gives me the confidence that I will be able to turn things around.

Q: Over the winter you expressed your intention to fight for the championship. What has to happen for these words to cross your lips again?
SP:
Probably to be at the top? To have a car that is capable of winning. Then I will say these words again. (laughs)

Q: Is there a bit of disillusionment on both sides? Team principal Martin Whitmarsh urged you to raise your game, but the car is also not at the top of its game…
SP:
Definitely. It is no secret that we are not performing at the level that we want to, so we are all disappointed. We are ambitious and are here to win and we are far from doing that at the moment. So of course you look for reasons and blame. But we are all confident that our time will come, that success is probably waiting just around the corner.

Q: The reality is that the MP4-27 was the fastest car on the grid at the end of last season and at the moment its successor comes across as a relative lame duck stuck, in the midfield. Why is that?
SP:
McLaren took an aggressive approach and we’ve got it wrong. But as we have understood where we went wrong, it is just a matter of time to bend it right again. I hope that in Spain we will enjoy the usual McLaren performance which will enable us to fight at the front.

Q: Right now we have been hearing a lot about all kinds of team mate relationships in the top teams. How’s it going with Jenson?
SP:
It is very good. We work very well together. There are no issues at all at the moment. Of course you never know what comes next. Jenson has been a good team mate so far - and hard to beat!

Q: So you are talking a lot? Discussing the car’s issues?
SP:
At the moment we are quite united because we have issues to solve. We are not fighting at the front for the last tenth, so we have to improve the car and so subsequently we spend time together.

Q: So you are united as you tackle the poor performance?
SP:
Yes.

Q: Life at McLaren definitely seems more luxurious than at Sauber. What is the biggest luxury at McLaren?
SP:
McLaren itself. The road car that you get when you drive for McLaren. (laughs) I have a McLaren 12C. That is ‘slightly’ nicer to what I had at Sauber. Of course it’s also the whole environment that McLaren has, like the factory and the history etc. I was always saying that McLaren would be the best team for me and now I am part of it.

Q: Martin Whitmarsh said that you would be a totally different person once you joined the team. What is so different now, aside from the haircut?
SP:
Ha, the hair is growing now. I am fitter. I make more preparations for a race weekend.

Q: What does it mean to be a McLaren driver? Are you brainwashed? Do you have a long list of dos and don’ts?
SP:
No, not at all. Sure, you are quite restricted in certain things because we represent big partners, but you have enough freedom to be yourself. And that is very important in this business.

Q: All this lamenting about the tyres is getting tedious. Now we hear talk that in Barcelona Pirelli could bring new developments. Is that good news?
SP:
Massively. If we look back at China, everything was about tyres. The tyres gave us a good show last season but I think at the moment they’ve pushed it a bit too far. The moment you start the race you are driving one or two seconds off your possible pace just to save the tyres and this makes it very easy to get it wrong. You have to put too much attention on the tyre side. So I really hope they can change this and bring the focus again on the driving. Teams spend so much money on the pace of the car and then you have to slow down, just to save the tyres.

Q: So if Pirelli come forward with slightly modified compounds in Barcelona - and McLaren come with a massive change of the car - could that be the real start to the season for you?
SP:
Let’s hope for it. It would be much appreciated.

Q: You’ve almost lost your reputation as being a good tyre ‘reader’ with the current compounds…
SP:
Ha, yes. But whatever you do with these tyres there is almost nothing you can do. It’s not like last year where there was always a small option that you could use to make them last longer.

For tickets and travel to 2013 FORMULA 1 races, click here.
For FORMULA 1 and F1 team merchandise, click here.