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Exclusive Sergio Perez Q&A: Marina Bay causing Force India headaches

19 Sep 2015

Force India came into Singapore on something of a roll, with Sergio Perez in particular fine form having scored consecutive top six finishes at Spa and Monza. The team has struggled to match that so far this weekend however, with Perez exiting qualifying in Q2 – a downturn the Mexican says is a blip rather than a slump, and one caused almost entirely by circuit characteristics...

Q: Checo, you've scored points every time you have raced here in F1. How disappointing therefore is it to miss out on making it into Q3?

Sergio Perez: Of course I am disappointed as I think Q3 should have been possible, but sometimes things simply do not come your way. Yes, it's true I have always been in the points here, even in my year with McLaren – that probably makes the disappointment a bit bigger! But there is no reason why I shouldn't score points again even if starting from the midfield holds quite a number of risks. I have had much worse cars than what I have now. The race here is so intense physically and mentally – it is probably the most demanding race of the calendar, so anything can happen. In some ways I feel here like a fish in water because I am used to this kind of climate from staying and training in Mexico. Yesterday I would have said that my target is to at least finish one place ahead of last year, which would mean sixth. Now it is all down to the right calls and a bit of luck - but as I said before, I've scored points here with worse cars!

Q: The last two races have been quite a bonanza for you - two high-speed tracks, and Force India were a 'force' there. The twists of Marina Bay seem to be more of a challenge...

SP: In reality Spa should be the start of the usual 'Force India style' end of season rally! When I look back at the races so far this season I would say that I had a pretty good run up to Monaco with the old spec car – but from Monaco onwards there were always issues, problems I had never had before. Spa was the first straight weekend again and Monza followed in the same mould so it is hard to believe that we have lost the momentum.

Q: Were the high-speed track results down to the B-spec car?

SP: There are some things coming together that are better. I had a new engineer since the start of the season, and it took a bit of time to tie in with him. It's just like having a new girlfriend: it takes time to know what the other means and needs. But now we are over that phase and I am very confident now. And yes of course the B–spec car is a huge leap forward in everything. But in the end when you look at the pre-season we only had two days of testing with the A-spec so it was never the car that we wanted to start a season. The B-spec is the result of development in the course of ten races. Now in hindsight I am very proud of what we have achieved with that 'half-baked' car we have started the season. It really is amazing!

Q: Would you say that P5 in the constructors' standings is where Force India deserves to be?

SP: Absolutely. And I am pretty convinced that we will be able to defend it. There are more tracks to our liking following this race.

Q: In the last two years, you've finished 10th in the drivers' championship. When will you break into single figures?

SP: Ha, thanks for asking! My answer is soon. I am still very young, only 25, but already I have huge experience. That should give me the chance to drive a car that will get me there.

Q: Vijay Mallya said lately that he wants to keep his line-up in 2016…

SP: …and I want to stay! I am very happy with Force India!

Q: If you look at McLaren: it seemed unlucky for you to lose your seat in 2013, but now they are in a nightmare situation. What are your feelings watching them?

SP: That I am a very lucky man with my situation.

Q: That season with McLaren almost cost you a place in F1. What would be your advice to youngsters like Kevin Magnussen or Stoffel Vandoorne, who are both on the team's books?

SP: Well, McLaren are a big team. If as a youngster you get the opportunity to drive for them then it is almost impossible to reject that chance – especially if there is no other option to get into an F1 cockpit. It is no secret that it is very difficult to make it into F1 and if there is an opportunity, take it! Try to make an impression – but be aware that it might not always work out.

Q: Your brother Antonio is racing in NASCAR. Have you ever thought about racing in the US, and being much closer to home?

SP: Well, that could be my next stage of career – moving closer to home! (laughs) Right now only F1 is on my mind, and hopefully for the next ten years. After that I can think about some NASCAR experiences. The Perez brothers in NASCAR – it is something of a dream to race against my brother.

Q: We're now only six weeks away from your home Grand Prix. Mexico City of course has quite an unusual altitude for a F1 circuit. When will you start to prepare yourself physically – and what will you do?

SP: I am used to that – I go back and forth very often so it doesn't affect me. But for the others, my advice is to go there as early as you can – and that is really difficult with the tight schedule as we race the weekend before in Austin. So, go there immediately after the race. That is the only advice I will give for free – the little secrets I'll keep to myself!