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Exclusive Sergio Perez Q&A: Anything is possible at Monza

06 Sep 2014

Sergio Perez made a sensational start to his 2014 campaign with a podium in Bahrain, but after coming agonisingly close to victory in Canada, his form has tailed off slightly as Force India have slipped down the Formula One pecking order. The Mexican however believes Monza can be the springboard for a resurgence, particularly as he will start from inside the top ten for only the third time in 2014...

Q: Checo, in the first three races of the season you scored half the points total you now have after 12 races. That situation must drive you up the wall! How do you still manage to stay so calm?

Sergio Perez: Ha, it's not that I am calm - but you have to see the whole season so far and that explains many things. When the car was at its best I lost quite a few opportunities to score big points. We've been very competitive - but we weren't able to get the best out of the weekends. It has mainly been reliability issues that I have had to face this year - and that has put me in a not so favourable position.

Q: It was an incredible start to the season topped by your podium finish in Bahrain, where everything seemed to be possible - and then your luck turned sour …

SP: Yep, it's been a bit frustrating after Bahrain but the positive thing for myself is that I know that my pace has always been there since day one - and that is important. In F1 you have to deliver, and also as a team. We are right now in a bit of an uncomfortable position with McLaren as they are improving, and a bit faster a rate than us at the moment - so updates are key to our situation now to make sure that we can fight them.

Q: Two thirds of the season has gone. You had a highlight with the Bahrain podium - what else was a highlight?

SP: Definitely Montreal when I was really close to winning! A brake failure stopped me from bringing my first victory home. That was the highlight of my year, aside from the podium. Then think about Austria: without the penalty a podium finish would have been within reach - so many good moments, and unfortunately the standings don't show that. So far I have to say it has been a fantastic season, a real adventure trip, and I hope that I can confirm that next year if I stay here for a second year. It is always very helpful to get the benefit of a second year. Remember my stance at Sauber when my second year in 2012 put me in the view of big teams.

Q: Your strength is to be kind to the tyres - but it seems that this quality is not as important any more with the 2014 cars. Is that so?

SP: It is always important to 'understand' your tyres and manage them. I focus on tyre management quite a lot - so yes, it's still important even though the harder compounds that we have this year are more forgiving than in the past. My podium in Bahrain came thanks to my tyre management.

Q: Nico [Hulkenberg] hinted that the team is working hard to bring some substantial updates to the next few races. Force India have a history of finishing the season on a high. Are you on the way to doing that - and is there a schedule for the updates?

SP: We are hoping to bring substantial upgrades for Singapore. Keep your fingers crossed that they will give us the chance to fight McLaren. And of course we hope that they will stand in line with Force India's tradition to finish each season on a high. But we also should be able to fight the McLarens here, as this circuit should suit our car.

Q: In what areas do you need improvements not to lose contact with McLaren in the fight for fifth in the constructors' championship? Both teams have the same engine - now it is to make the chassis more competitive…

SP: Basically it is the rear of the car. We've identified our issues - and that is the moment when you put some weight on the rear. The flow then collapses and you lose a lot of downforce. I think Nico and I have given a good direction to the engineers to find our weak spots and find the right compromise - and that should help us at the coming races.

Q: McLaren have more resources relative to Force India. Is it more difficult?

SP: It is a completely different story. As a driver when you've been at McLaren and then move to Force India I think you have a lot to contribute as you can guide the team. But it was also good for me in terms of my perspective - and it will help me in the future as it will help me move a team forward.

Q: You had your finest hour here in Monza in 2012 when you finished on the podium in P2, from 13th on the grid. If you think back, what emotions come with this track - and what is possible on Sunday?

SP: Everything is possible. We come from a very difficult weekend in Spa so I definitely expect to be better here, just because of the circuit - and let's hope that also goes for the car and not only for the driver! (laughs) Can it happen again? Who knows! I had a podium in 2012 in Montreal, and this year I nearly won the race - and I had a podium here in 2012, so let's see how the sentence finishes on Sunday!

Q: How much does your good qualifying performance contribute to a belief that Sunday will see you on the rise again?

SP: It was a good afternoon. If you look at the times you see that the two Mercedes are quite far ahead, and then there are the two Williams - but between P5 and P10 it's pretty tight. We are usually better in the race than on a single lap so we should look for a good points finish.

Q: Force India is in tight competition with McLaren, so the question of tracks suiting one car or driver better than others will be important. What are the tracks that you pin your hopes to?

SP: From what we've seen today Monza could potentially be a good one - and then it will all depend on how the upgrade works in Singapore. But in reality we have to be focused every single weekend until the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi as it will boil down to a very tight battle.

Q: Will it make a difference that Force India is racing with two experienced drivers, whereas McLaren has a rookie in one of their cockpits who doesn't know all the tracks?

SP: Yes, it makes a difference. I would say that Force India has a better driver line-up for the upcoming flyaway races. I have no doubt about that. Yes, we do have limited resources, but we do have a better package in terms of drivers.

Q: Both Force India cars scored points in Spa – although you were both on the lower fringes of the top ten. Is there a chance of a bigger haul on Sunday?

SP: As I just said Spa was very difficult, so we should do better here - at best seven positions better! (laughs)