Williams "too far ahead" in F1 2017 midfield battle - Perez

Williams is “too far ahead” in the midfield battle at the start of the new Formula 1 season, says Force India driver Sergio Perez.

Williams "too far ahead" in F1 2017 midfield battle - Perez
Felipe Massa, Williams FW40
Felipe Massa, Williams FW40
Felipe Massa, Williams FW40
Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India F1 VJM10
Sergio Perez, Force India VJM10
Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India F1 VJM10
Sergio Perez, Force India VJM10
Sergio Perez, Force India VJM10, leads Carlos Sainz Jr., Scuderia Toro Rosso STR12
Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India F1

Despite being one of the slower teams in the Australian Grand Prix, Force India managed to get both drivers in the points, with Perez finishing seventh and Esteban Ocon scoring for the first time in F1 in 10th.

Perez ended the race just one spot behind the lead Williams of Felipe Massa, but could not join the Brazilian in staying on the lead lap.

In terms of Melbourne performance, Force India has fallen away more than any other team in the off-season.

Comparing the fastest lap from each team over a race weekend, the Indian outfit has slipped from 101.552% relative to the outright pacesetter to 103.449% in Melbourne, where it was slower than all teams bar McLaren and Sauber.

“I think Williams is too far ahead at the moment,” said Perez. “Toro Rosso was quicker than us, Haas was quicker than us – so to beat them on track with strategy, the team can be very happy with that.

“I think we came with more than we thought, more than the car's pace deserved today. As a team, we did a perfect weekend and I'm very pleased with that.”

The heavy VJM10 has led to Perez going on a crash diet in a bid to lower the overall weight of the car and driver.

Perez reckoned he and Ocon were able to compensate for a lack of car performance in Melbourne and admitted the team needs to improve its car sooner rather than later.

“I think Melbourne is a track where a driver can make more of a difference,” said Perez.

“It's very bumpy, a narrow and difficult track. So once we go to a more normal track where the car pace matters more, we are going to struggle more.

“We need the upgrades as soon as possible, we need to work hard on the car.

"As we've seen in the past, Force India normally doesn't have the greatest starts of season. This is probably my best start of a season with the team in my four years, so it's quite encouraging.

“There's still a long way to go but at the moment we are not where we finished [on Sunday].”

Perez said in pre-season testing the team had identified “a lot of weaknesses” in the VJM10, and admitted after the first race some of those remained.  

“We improved the car from testing, but I think the weaknesses are there,” he said. “We cannot really balance the car, so I think that's what we need to sort out.”

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