Perez: Force India could fight for top three in 2017

Sergio Perez reckons the regulation changes for Formula 1 2017 season could be his Force India team's "biggest opportunity" to break into the top three.

Perez: Force India could fight for top three in 2017
Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India F1
Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India F1 VJM09
Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India F1 VJM09
Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India F1 with team mate Nico Hulkenberg, Sahara Force India F1
Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India F1 VJM09
Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India F1 VJM09
Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India F1 VJM09
Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India F1 celebrates his third position on the podium
Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India F1 VJM09

The Indian outfit, which had begun its F1 tenure as backmarker team in 2008, reached its best-ever result of fourth in the constructors' standings in 2016.

The gap between the three top teams - Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari - and the rest of the pack was particularly high this year, but Perez, who will contest his fourth season with Force India in 2017, believes his team can continue to progress up the ranks.

"Next year is our big opportunity to keep overachieving," Perez reckoned. "To move forward with the rule changes is our biggest opportunity, to try to get in the top three at the end of the year."

Perez's long-time teammate Nico Hulkenberg, who is leaving Force India for Renault in 2017, suggested the Indian outfit had the right staff but not the budget to compete with the likes of Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari.

The Mexican himself, however, is optimistic in that regard; "Every year we have been moving up, so I see good potential, good people. I think the budget is quite good for next year in terms of what we can do in terms of upgrades.

"We are not in the position of the big teams, but I see good potential. If we get it right next year, we can definitely be in the top-three fight."

2016 turnaround

Force India's fourth-place finish in 2016 came despite the team having struggled early on in the campaign, as it had been all the way down in eighth four races in.

"We have shown again – it is not how you start the year, it is how you end the year," Perez said. "And we started the year lacking quite a lot of pace, but we worked hard and developed the car, between us drivers and engineering, and the factory.

"I think we have done an incredible job and where we really had the turnaround was in Monaco, making it onto the podium and scoring some points - and the team has made the big difference in the difficult races.

"I think when we had rain, when we had very difficult races was when we had managed to secure the most points and the biggest difference to our competition, which was Williams at the time.

"It was just an incredible year for us."

Asked whether it was his own best year in Formula 1, Perez said: "I think so. I think it was very strong year for me in terms of performances, consistency.

"Definitely when I look back, it has been a tremendous year for me, very strong."

Additional reporting by Jonathan Noble

shares
comments
Reflections on F1 2016 - Ferrari fall short of expectations, major upheaval at base

Previous article

Reflections on F1 2016 - Ferrari fall short of expectations, major upheaval at base

Next article

Top Stories of 2016, #6: Verstappen wins first race after Red Bull promotion

Top Stories of 2016, #6: Verstappen wins first race after Red Bull promotion
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Sergio Perez
Teams Ferrari , Force India
Author Valentin Khorounzhiy
How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain Prime

How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain

An aggressive first corner move from Max Verstappen appeared to have set the Red Bull driver on course for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. But canny strategy from Mercedes - combined with the absence of Red Bull's number two from the lead group - allowed Lewis Hamilton to pull off a demoralising reversal

The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace Prime

The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace

Lewis Hamilton led the way in Friday practice for the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix, but there was one major encouraging sign for Red Bull. However, making good on that gain will require Max Verstappen to avoid repeating a mistake that left him well down the FP2 order...

Formula 1
May 7, 2021
Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place Prime

Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place

Three points finishes from as many starts represents a decent opening innings on paper, but Daniel Ricciardo has endured a tough start to his McLaren career - only magnified his teammate's excellent form. Yet both he and the team have good reason to expect a turnaround soon.

Formula 1
May 6, 2021
What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors Prime

What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors

OPINION: Going up against the dominant force of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton was always going to demand the best from Red Bull and Max Verstappen. But after making a couple more errors during the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Dutch driver showed there's a small gap he still needs to close in the 2021 Formula 1 title fight.

Formula 1
May 5, 2021
The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix Prime

The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix

Red Bull's Portuguese Grand Prix fortunes were decidedly second best to Mercedes', but the result skews the potential that the team had at Portimao. With a new set of updates, the team looks good going forward into the rest of 2021's spicy F1 competition

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
Portuguese Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Portuguese Grand Prix driver ratings

The 2021 Portuguese GP will for several drivers go down as a weekend of missed opportunities amid imperfect track conditions that caused struggles with tyre warm-up. But the performances of a select few stood out from the crowd

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
The five key tests Hamilton passed to claim Portugal victory Prime

The five key tests Hamilton passed to claim Portugal victory

Just as he did in 2020, Lewis Hamilton had to come from behind to win the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix. Only this time there were two rivals he had to pass, among the several challenges he had to overcome, on his way to securing a 97th grand prix victory

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
Imola 1994: Memories from Ayrton Senna’s F1 rivals Prime

Imola 1994: Memories from Ayrton Senna’s F1 rivals

The tragic events of the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix changed Formula 1 forever. Here, 17 of the drivers who took part explain how they coped with the devastating deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna.

Formula 1
May 1, 2021