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"I'm a better Formula 1 driver than I was" - How Sergio Perez turned it around in 2015

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"I'm a better Formula 1 driver than I was" - How Sergio Perez turned it around in 2015
Dec 9, 2015, 6:55 PM

Sergio Perez believes that he is now a better driver than he was in 2012, when he scored three podiums for Sauber, after making a breakthrough in t...

Sergio Perez believes that he is now a better driver than he was in 2012, when he scored three podiums for Sauber, after making a breakthrough in the set-up of the B-spec Force India car that turned his 2015 Formula One season around.

The Mexican driver had only finished in the points on four occasions, with a best of seventh in Monaco, before Force India introduced its updated chassis at the British Grand Prix. He went on to be one of the highest scorers in the second half of the season, outside of the Mercedes, Ferrari and Williams drivers.

Sergio Perez

But, as Perez explained in an interview with Auto Motor und Sport, it took until the Belgian Grand Prix two races later for him to find the best way to set up the VJM08B. That discovery led to his run of seven top-ten finishes in the final nine races of 2015, which included third place at the Russian Grand Prix.

He said: "I had trouble finding the right setup. We had experimented a lot, [and got] bogged down. The turning point was the third practice in Spa. I had had to change everything on the car, and suddenly worked it."

Perez highlighted the Sochi race as his result of the year, but reckons he is now driving better and more consistently than he did in 2012, when he scored three podiums – and a near win in the Malaysian race – in just his second season in F1.

Sergio Perez

He said: “[In] 2012 I stood on the podium three times, that was special. [But] on the other hand, this year I was much more consistant than three years ago and I'm a better driver than I was then."

“[Sochi was the best] not because I finished third there, [because] getting there was special. I changed tyres early and then had to hold the tyres until the very end of their life."

Perez also described his unease at the first winter test of the season, when his early laps in the initial 2015 car felt worse than Force India’s 2014 challenger.

Sergio Perez

He said: "That was a big shock The car was even worse than we had thought, but the team never gave up. Nico [Hulkenberg] was seventh in Melbourne, and I was tenth. That gave us courage.”

Perez, who raced in front of his home crowd for the first time as the Mexican Grand Prix returned to the F1 calendar last month, said Force India’s ability to move up to fifth place in the championship even before it had produced its updated car encouraged him to re-sign with the team for 2016.

He said: “We were fifth [in the constructors’ championship] even before the debut of the B-version, although Lotus as yet had a better car than we did. That we achieved this strengthened my confidence in the team. [So at] that time I decided to stay with Force India.”

Sergio Perez

Force India was able to secure fifth place in the teams’ championship at the end of the season, the best result in its eight-year F1 history. Perez hopes the squad can do even better in 2016, but acknowledges it will be hard pressed to achieve that aim.

He said: "We want to raise [our result]. This is a huge task for a small team like us [and] I expect more than this season from some of our opponents next year.

“McLaren, for example, and Toro Rosso. We must also not underestimate Haas F1 [as] this is not really a new team with their connection to Ferrari. That will be a challenge from the start."

Sergio Perez

What have you made of Sergio Perez in 2015? Will Force India be able to improve on its best-ever result in 2016? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
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Series Formula 1
Drivers Sergio Perez Shop Now
Teams Ferrari Shop Now