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Exclusive Sergio Perez Q&A: I want to stay with Force India

01 Nov 2014

Having been dropped by McLaren after just a single season at the end of 2013, Sergio Perez has had to work hard this year to revive his reputation at Force India. But after a podium finish and a further 10 point-scoring results, Perez now feels fully at home with his new team and hopes to continue their partnership next year. We caught up with the Mexican in Austin to review his 2014 campaign…

Q: Checo, what is the state of affairs in your negotiations with Force India for 2015? Will we hear news soon, given that your team mate Nico Hulkenberg has already been confirmed?
Sergio Perez:
You have to speak to (team boss) Vijay (Mallya) - he is the man to know. But yes, we are of course in negotiations and I hope that we will have something to announce very soon.

Q: Is it your aim to stay with the team in 2015?
SP:
Yes, definitely. It always takes a while till you are fully integrated in a new team - know all the people and their positions and skills - but that period is over now and I feel very comfortable in being a part of Force India. Of course the Bahrain podium was a huge door opener, but if you look at my last five races I was in the points in each of them - so yes, I have arrived, and yes, I would like to stay with Force India in 2015.

Q: The season is almost over: what is your opinion on the 2014 changes? For what kind of driver are the changes a blessing - and what is hurting the others?
SP:
Well, it was an adaption to a new driving style. At the beginning it was a bit odd to see that the pit wall is in fact with you in the cockpit - that many things that a driver used to decide is now done electronically. It is different now, true, but it holds different challenges, so in no way has driving a Formula One car become easier.

Q: What had the most significant impact on driving style? And will it be more balanced in 2015 when the changes have sunk in?
SP:
The low downforce level. These cars are completely different to handle than those from last year - and then you have the strong influence of the pit wall as I just said. You have to come to terms with the fact that the times of ‘a man and his machine’ are over - now it is a man, his machine and his engineering crew. (laughs)

Q: When you look back on this year’s races, what’s been your highlight - not necessarily in terms of points, but skills?
SP:
Of course the Bahrain podium stands out - it was my third race with the team and it really bonded me to my then-new team. I also enjoyed the Austrian Grand Prix that saw me finishing in P6. Drivers are result driven, so results are what makes your day! (laughs)

Q: Lately Nico has been having a tough time of it in races whereas you’ve been in the points at the last five Grands Prix - why is that so?
SP:
I cannot speak about Nico’s situation - you have to ask him. I can only say that I am happy with the last five races and I want to add tomorrow to this list of points finishes.

Q: The first two positions in the constructors’ championship are taken, but we will see very interesting battles behind that: between Williams and Ferrari for P3 and between McLaren and Force India for P5. What’s your guess on the final order?
SP:
Yes, we four teams still fighting for positions will give the fans a good show, I swear. I can only speak for Force India in terms of possibilities and I think that we do still have all the chances to beat McLaren because of the double points in Abu Dhabi. So we will stay on their heels.

Q: Next year F1 racing will return to Mexico, but for this season Austin is the closest thing to your home race. Are the many Mexican fans here giving you a boost?
SP:
Yes. In the paddock you hear Spanish everywhere, and the Mexican flags on the grandstands - that is awesome! I promise all the Mexican fans who have come here that I will do everything I can not to disappoint them!

Q: What has been your main focus so far this weekend? Both cars dropped out in Q2, but Force India are known to be a ‘race-orientated’ team…
SP:
Of course we were disappointed not to make it into Q3. I used two sets of tyres in Q1 just to get through to Q2 and then I only had one single set left, which meant only one shot to make it into Q3 and unfortunately it didn’t work out. I am not fully satisfied with the balance of the car, but the wind played a major factor in that. And the wind will also play a major factor in the race - and the temperature. But our long-run pace from Friday was promising, so I would still predict that we will deliver a good result.