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Exclusive Sergio Perez Q&A: Montreal podium a possibility

05 Jun 2014

So far it’s been a mixed first season at Force India for Sergio Perez - the high of that third place in Bahrain, accompanied by the lows of two retirements and a points tally well under half that of his esteemed team mate Nico Hulkenberg. Perez knows the Sakhir result cannot be repeated everywhere, but does believe that the characteristics of Canada’s Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve could help put him in the hot seat again this weekend…

Q: Checo, without the Bahrain podium your season so far would arguably have been a bit dull. Why is it so difficult to recapture that form?

Sergio Perez: The performance of the car in Bahrain was a one-off. We had the unique opportunity there to fight for a podium - and we grabbed that opportunity. That was fantastic for the team - and for me to get myself back on a podium. I have missed that very dearly. But it was purely down to the performance that we had that weekend - and we knew that. Maybe this weekend we can have another shot at a podium because of the layout of the circuit. It’s an engine-related track and the performance of the car is not that important. And should a window open we again have to make sure that we are ready to take the chance. And yes - other than that Bahrain podium it’s been an up-and-down season so far for me. At the start of the season when the car was competitive we didn’t score the points that we should have - the latest of the missed chances was two weeks ago in Monaco. We had good chances there to finish both cars in the top five, but my contact on the first lap destroyed these hopes. That really frustrates and disappoints me. The good thing is we know that the speed is there.

Q: If you are the guy in the team for grabbing opportunities, are you ready again this weekend?

SP: I am. Hopefully a chance comes my way again.

Q: Looking back at Monaco, there seems be a love/hate relationship between you and that track. It works well until a certain point - and then the track seems to push the eject button. Have you ever wondered why?

SP: Ha, yes, that is so true. The funny thing is that I love that Monaco track and I’ve always been strong there. It’s just I never could execute that. For some strange reasons the result never comes my way there. But I am confident one day it will only be a love relationship. (laughs)

Q: What happened on that first lap two weeks ago? Can you talk us through your very untimely exit?

SP: What happened and how it happened was very strange. I tried to overtake Nico, but he closed the door so I had to come back to my line to do the corner - and suddenly Jenson (Button) was there. Bang. I never had expected Jenson to be there and he couldn’t do anything to avoid me and I had no chance to react whatsoever. There you have it. It put me straight into the wall. There is nothing in such a situation at a track like Monaco you can do to avoid the wall. Period. It was a very disappointing moment to see a good chance go up in smoke. Sometimes you have races where you get angry over the result, but that was just a disappointment because we did everything that weekend to have a good result. We’d positioned ourselves in a way so as to be ready for any chance that comes, but instead a DNF was added to my sheet. But that is in the past now - and I am ready for this weekend.

Q: Is there any satisfaction in the fact that your replacement at McLaren is also not doing exceptionally well - and that the talk of ‘a new Lewis Hamilton in the making’ was perhaps a bit premature?

SP: To be honest I don’t see Kevin (Magnussen) as my replacement - nor am I happy that he’s not doing so well. I care for my future and myself. I am very happy at Force India and want to look forward. I have no idea about the reasons why McLaren is not doing so well or him. I think from the outside you could come to the conclusion that McLaren is pretty much struggling as we did last season. But now I see them as a competitor and I want to beat them - as I want to beat any other team. They are in my past - and I am looking to my future.

Q: It’s now your third team in what is still a young F1 career. What has each move taught you? Where were the biggest differences between Sauber, McLaren and Force India?

SP: I have learned a lot from each team. In my time at Sauber I learned a lot, as it was my first team in Formula One. Then the move to McLaren, wow, that was a pretty big step up. McLaren’s way of working is completely different. They base a lot on simulator work - and simulator was new for me back then. And then there’s the car itself. True, these are all Formula One cars, but there are huge differences and you have to adapt to these differences. It sure is a challenge for any driver to have such different characteristics in such a short period of time. You have to be flexible a lot - but that also gives you a lot of experience - to be able to adapt to any team and any car. That is a huge value in itself.

Q: Ron Dennis recently described McLaren as a ‘big beast’. How was it adapting again from that ‘beast’ to a smaller team like Force India who probably bank much more on the skills of the individual, since their resources are much slimmer?

SP: Obviously Force India doesn’t have the facilities that McLaren has - they have a huge facility and so many more people working on the car. But Force India is a team that is very hungry for success, even if it is more limited on the budget side. Everybody in the team is doing his job 150 percent - and that shows. Of course we also know that this season the team can manage its best result in the history of the team since the Jordan days of 1998. I think we can defend our position until the end of the year.

Q: It is clear that you cannot let your team mate Nico run away with all the glory. What’s your strategy to fight back?

SP: The pace is there. True, there is a margin in points, but in terms of pace we are very close. So there is no reason why I shouldn’t be able to beat him. If we put all the pieces together and I get a bit lucky then I’m there - just like it could have developed in a race like Monaco. Or think back to the races in Australia and Malaysia. I was hampered there by failures. Put such issues aside and I am right there.

Q: Nico said that at the last two races Force India used pretty much the same car. Is there anything new this weekend?

SP: It is also the same car here. It’s still the same car.

Q: When will the next upgrade come? Silverstone?

SP: I am not so sure. We are pushing for Austria in two weeks, but it might also be Silverstone in four weeks. Whenever it will happen, from what I’ve already seen it will be a good one!

Q: If you could make a wish, what would that be?

SP: Get a podium this weekend! I have hopes that we can do really well here. I think that we can close the gap to Ferrari and Red Bull here.

Q: You’ve been on the podium here before - is that also a possibility for Sunday?

SP: Yes, I hope so. But don’t forget that if everything takes the normal course two podium places are already taken by the two Mercedes cars. So the rest will fight for one spot on the podium - and I think to myself, ‘Why not us?’ I am ready.