After an uncertain period for Force India, they made an impressive return to action by securing consecutive seventh-place finishes on the opening day of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend – and Sergio Perez believes it is the best Friday performance they’ve delivered this season...
First it was Esteban Ocon to finish as best of the rest in the first session following the summer break, and then team mate Perez repeated those exploits in FP2.
Perez’s midfield rivals were some way behind, with nearest challenger Carlos Sainz in the Renault eight tenths slower than the Mexican – and it’s the perfect start to the weekend, according to the driver.
“I think it was quite strong, I'm very happy to be back,” Perez said. ”You forget, after a month, the sensation of driving. Once you go for the first time through Eau Rouge, I was so excited. It just comes to you, and I’m enjoying a lot to drive at Spa.
"I think we are quite competitive and probably had the best Friday of the season. I'm very happy and looking forward for tomorrow. We have to prepare urselves for tomorrow to be the best of the rest - and that’s our target.
“The car felt very good today and I’m happy with the balance. It’s probably the best balance we have had all year. So there is the potential for a strong weekend, regardless of what the weather does.”
His team mate Ocon was in a similarly delighted mood post-FP2, and the Frenchman is eager to deliver the goods when he returns to the track on Saturday.
“It's been a good day,” Ocon said. “Overall we arrive here fresh, and also with a competitive car. Sergio was 7th in FP2, and I was 7th in FP1, so pretty solid. Of course we have to keep working because the others are. We will have to keep pushing but we have a good base.
“I enjoy driving here, especially with these cars because they’re amazingly quick. It's always great fun. The car is performing well and I felt very comfortable in the first session.
“We tried a different direction in the afternoon, which didn’t really work and I also had a puncture which meant I had to do most of the session on one set of supersoft tyres. Even so, we have made some good progress today and I think we can fight for a place in Q3 tomorrow.”
Racing Point Force India is a completely new entity, starting with no points, with the former Force India entry excluded from the 2018 constructors’ championship due to its inability to complete the season. However, race drivers Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon will keep their points in the drivers’ standings.