Baku podium not a coincidence, says Perez

Sergio Perez says that it was "not a coincidence" that Force India was able to log a podium finish in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, despite the Mexican pitting for a new nose after first lap clash.

Perez initially dropped to 15th place, but he charged up to third by the flag, even passing erstwhile leader Sebastian Vettel – who had flat-spotted his tyres – in the closing laps.

It was the fifth third place he has achieved with Force India since he joined the team in 2014.

"Obviously, this result is a coincidence of so many things happening," said Perez.

"But it's not a coincidence that we are always there to take anything that is offered to us.

"I think our battle is not here, to be honest, it's the midfield and finally we got plenty of points today with this podium, [and] we can close up the gap to the cars ahead, to the Renaults.

"I think we were definitely the fourth best team."

Force India chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer said the result made up for the frustration of 2017, when Perez and teammate Esteban Ocon collided.

"It was deserved last year," he told Motorsport.com. "We definitely had the pace to have both cars on the podium, but we crashed and screwed it up ourselves. Today we had two first lap incidents.

"One was terminal with Esteban. But the other one, the entire side of the front wing was gone, the front wing end plate was completely gone. We had some damage on the diffuser too. So we came in, changed the front wing and recovered."

Szafnauer was keen to praise Perez for his ability to take an opportunity.

"He is really good. The overtaking manoeuvre on Stroll I thought was great, he left that really late. They have the same powertrain we do, so there was no powertrain advantage.

"Therefore he had to leave his braking really, really late, but he did a beautiful job and hit that. I though he left it way too late, I thought he was going to lock up, but he didn't and once he got past he never looked back. He got Grosjean pretty easily. He's great on a Sunday.

"Bottas had his problems, but still we had to beat Vettel. He may have flat-spotted his tyre, but I think at the end Checo's lap time was quicker than anyone on the track. That was very good. He deserved to be there."

Deputy team principal Bob Fernley said that the whole team had contributed to Perez's recovery.

"What you saw was an incredible team effort across the board. It wasn't just the guys doing the pit stop, the pit wall was amazing – the calmness on the pit wall to bring him all the way through. It probably wasn't quite as calm in the last few laps, but it was good!"

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Series Formula 1
Teams Force India
Article type Breaking news