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Sergio Perez on taking on Williams and his 2017 F1 plans

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Sergio Perez on taking on Williams and his 2017 F1 plans
Jul 21, 2016, 11:17 PM

Sergio Perez reckons this weekend’s race in Hungary will be a key test of Force India’s ambitions to overhaul Williams in the Formula 1 constru...

Sergio Perez reckons this weekend’s race in Hungary will be a key test of Force India’s ambitions to overhaul Williams in the Formula 1 constructors’ championship.

The Silverstone-based squad is now just 19 points behind Williams after the two teams enjoyed contrasting fortunes in the recent British Grand Prix. Perez and his Force India teammate, Nico Hulkenberg, finished sixth and seventh last time out, while Williams’ Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas came home 11th and 14th.

That result, and Williams’ questions over its lack of pace at this stage of the season, has led to speculation that Force India could improve on its fifth place in the 2015 constructors’ championship, which was the team’s best ever result in F1.

Sergio Perez

But Perez explained that the wet-to-dry nature of the British Grand Prix meant that this weekend’s race at the Hungaroring would be give a better indication of where the two teams stand.

He said: “I think Silverstone was a very different race to normal races so it will be very interesting to see how the next races go.

“This one is a very good test for us to see how close we are to them. I generally think we are getting closer and closer, certainly when you look at the points difference from five races again then we have closed the gap massively.

“But I think it’s going to be a very tough challenge but I’m sure we can give them a strong challenge to try and beat them. That would be a fantastic result for our team to finish fourth in the constructors’ [championship].”

Felipe Massa Nico Hulkenberg

Massa, who was speaking along with Perez in the pre-event press conference in Budapest, described how the last two races in Austria and Britain had been disappointing for Williams and he warned that the Hungarian circuit might not suit the FW38’s strengths.

He said: “Silverstone was a very disappointing race and also Austria so we are definitely trying to understand everything that didn’t work in a proper way in the car. I really hope we will not suffer these problems any more and I really hope we get back to the points and be as competitive as we believe so.

“This is not really the perfect track [where] we believe we can be very competitive, [but] we are working so hard to make the car in the way we believe it needs to be and I really hope it can be better from now on.”

Felipe Massa

Massa feels they key for Williams to rediscover its pace is down to understanding the best ways to exploit its recent updates. The team brought a new front wing to the Red Bull Ring and Silverstone but is yet to use it during a Grand Prix.

Massa said: “We’re trying to develop the car this year, we had many new parts in the last races and we just need to try and understand what is the right configuration to use.

“We will test a lot of different things tomorrow and hopefully we understand the conclusion [and] how to use the right parts to make the car as competitive as we believe we can be.”

Perez to confirm 2017 plans “during the summer break”

Sergio Perez

The prospect of Perez and Hulkenberg staying at Force India appeared to be cleared up when its team boss Vijay Mallya recently said they were both under contract for 2017, but the Mexican driver insisted he would talk with his sponsors first before deciding his future plans.

He said: “I am a very lucky driver to have many sponsors behind me, so I am not alone, I don’t decide my future on my own, I need to speak with my group of sponsors to see what is the best for our future and then we will decide. We will have some time during the summer break and then we will decide what is best for my career.

“What Vijay said is correct, but I depend a lot on my sponsors as well to decide together what to do.”

Informed sources suggest that Perez is high on Renault's shopping list to race alongside Estaban Ocon next season, but the Mexican has other suitors and is an attractive package with a sponsor portfolio worth around €10m a year and strong form at the moment. He is well settled at Force India and the working environment suits him, so there's a good chance that would out outweigh other considerations; unless his sponsors have other plans.

Do you think Force India can beat Williams to fourth place in the constructors’ championship? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.
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