Perez: I’m going through a great moment in my career
Force India driver Sergio Perez delivered a gutsy driver to claim third place in the Russian Grand Prix, at Sochi Autodrom, after making an inspired decision to pit for tyres during a safety car period.
Thereafter he delieverd a masterclass in tyre conservation hanging onto third until the final lap when both Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen squeezed past, demoting the Mexican to fifth. But a few corners later the two Finns collided and Perez was rewaded with a well deserved third place for his efforts. He spoke afterwards.
Checo, what a remarkable race. I thought it was all gone with a lap to go and there you were picking up the pieces and now you’re up here on the podium. I’m absolutely delighted for you, because it’s a long time since Bahrain  when you were last on the podium. How does it feel?
Sergio Perez: It just feels great to be back with these boys. I have been enjoying so much my trip with all of them and yeah, as you say, one lap before the end it seemed that everything went away from us. At that point I was just really unhappy with myself, because many things come to your mind. But in the end, until my last lap I was like “OK, I gave it all”. There was no more I could. I had done plenty of laps with my tyres, so I had massive degradation on my front tyres especially, so in the last lap, when it came, it was just amazing. It’s very nice to give this second podium to my team.
We want to talk a little bit about Mexico, because we are going to your home country in a number of weeks. Excitement out there?
SP: Oh yes, massively. It will be a great place. The fans are great here in Russia, so thanks for all of that. But at the same time, Mexico is going to be my most special weekend of all, no matter what result I get, and I am sure the whole paddock of Formula One will be shocked with the support we get there.
You made that critical pit stop in the second safety car, it was right in that lovely window that I’m sure you were hoping for. You were very decisive in making that move but of course you had to do forty laps on a set of soft tyres. Of course you’ve been here before, you’ve done this before and it’s led to podiums before but is this one of the best days of your career given that we’re going to your home Grand Prix in just a few weeks time?
SP: Definitely I’m going through a great moment in my career. From where we are it’s difficult to realise but people who look at my performance, they can see that I’m at my best moment in my career and that’s something that makes me confident. I was confident going into the race, obviously not expecting a podium at all, but the race started quite well. Obviously Nico went out quite early, safety car came out. Then we had a second safety car and we decided to box. We were one of the few cars to box and I thought well… The restart going behind Felipe and Nasr, I was just stuck there and couldn’t get them so I decided to save my tyres together with the team, to look after them at the end of the race and it worked really well and I think we lost a podium one lap before the end but it was just very difficult to hold them back, to hold Valtteri and Raikkonen back. At the stage that my tyres were, I couldn’t brake very hard, very late because I was at risk of flat-spotting my tyres and retiring from the race, so there was a certain level of risk that I was able to take and I thought OK, if it’s not a podium, let’s really come back with the points and then in the last lap they had contact and it was very good to come back and give a second podium to the team, which I think we’re going into a great momentum. It’s great news that I’m staying with the team so we have a lot of momentum going through us and hopefully we can maintain it for the end of the year.