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Sergio Perez Q&A: Sunday fightback possible in Shanghai

19 Apr 2014

A fortnight on from his superb podium in Bahrain, Sergio Perez has struggled for pace in China and could only secure 16th in qualifying - eight places down on Nico Hulkenberg.

The Mexican accepts his team mate has had the upper hand so far in Shanghai, but remains confident he can stage a fight back and reaasert himself as a points contender on Sunday...

Q: Checo, for one moment let's go back to the Bahrain podium: you've said that Formula One racing had almost slipped out of your hands after McLaren decided to take on Kevin Magnussen. Then you got a chance with Force India, a totally different team, and were paired with Nico Hulkenberg, who knows all the ins and outs of the team - but it was you who delivered their first podium in nearly five years. How does it feel to have done so against the odds?

Sergio Perez: Ha, yes, that Bahrain podium was quite something. In that race I was able to make the most out of every single chance that I had. I hope that I can have more such moments in the future. It was one of my most special podiums, especially after last year. It was a tough race - from the start all the way through to the chequered flag it was maximum push. The finish line was a big relief for me! (laughs)

Q: There were several team mate battles going on during the race. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg's duel raised the most eyebrows, but your fight with Nico was nevertheless pretty tense…

SP: Of course you always want to beat your team mate - that's the nature of the game. Beating them is the only route to success. But of course you also always have a responsibility towards the team so 'don't do anything stupid' is just as important.

Q: Right now Force India are second in the constructors' standings. Is that surprising for you? And will the table still look that way tomorrow after the race in Shanghai?

SP: To be honest second in the standings is a surprise - a fantastic surprise. We went into the season knowing that we are pretty good, but you never know until you really hit the track how good you will be. One thing I can tell all the others: don't underestimate this team. Yes, we do have the Mercedes engine, but it is the combination of engine and chassis that makes a successful car, and that's what we are pretty good at.

Q: So how about tomorrow? Another pleasant surprise for Force India?

SP: My guess is that this will be difficult, but then many things will depend on the conditions. We knew that this China weekend would be a tough one for us as we only have brought a small update, whereas some of our competitors came here with some quite massive changes. The goal is clear: defend what we have. Our big update will come in Barcelona and until then we have to ensure we don't lose too much ground.

Q: So how is it going so far this weekend? It seems Nico has had fewer issues than you, but there are eight places between the two of you in qualifying…

NR: Yes, seems so. Yesterday I had issues with the DRS, and I have not been overly happy with the balance. Of course the conditions didn't really contribute today to a better run, as it is always difficult to solve issues under such wet conditions - especially when you know that the race could potentially be dry. So I think Nico has been able to show the true potential of our car. We should be able get in the points with a good strategy. This track is massive on tyres - we've seen some graining on the front tyres - so tyre management will make quite a lot of difference. Even if qualifying was a bit of a disappointment, as I had difficulties getting temperature into the tyres, I am feeling pretty positive for the race.

Q: You've traditionally been stronger in the race than in qualifying - is that what triggers your hopes?

SP: There have been many comments that qualifying is less important this season, so as long as there are no points allocated on a Saturday afternoon I can live with today - even if there is a big question mark as to why it didn't go better, because it hasn't gone well all weekend long so far. I'm now fully concentrated on the race - and I will keep a firm eye on my front tyres!