Sergio Perez believes he could have scored his second podium of the season in Austria today, had he not received a five-place penalty for his clash with Felipe Massa a fortnight ago.
The Force India driver put on a strong drive on reverse soft/soft/supersoft strategy from 16th place on the grid to finish in sixth place but regretted his poor grid slot for not finishing higher in the race.
“Today we got a very positive result for the team, especially considering where we started the afternoon,” The Mexican told reporters after the race. “When you start in 16th it is always going to be difficult to make up ground, but I had a very strong start and made up a good few positions.”
“The only regret is that without the grid penalty I would have been further up the grid, which would have made a big difference because we had the pace to fight for a podium today,” he added.
The 24 year old was pleased with his car, the VJM07, both in terms of race pace and how it managed its tyres.
“It was especially important to pass Jenson [Button] because he was on a similar strategy to mine: it was a key moment for my race. The strategy worked; we showed once more that we can manage the tyres well, and we had a very strong race pace, as we have had all year.”
Meanwhile, Nico Hulkenberg, on the other side of the garage had a tougher time than he would have expected. The German was left baffled as to why his car wasn’t as his teammate’s. Poor balance didn’t help his cause either with the result that he finished ninth in the race.
“It was quite a tough afternoon and more difficult than I was expecting. Inside the car I was struggling with the balance quite a lot, which hurt our pace and also had an impact on the tyre wear. So I think it was just a general lack of pace which stopped me from being able to get a better result.
Vijay Mallya applauded Sergio Perez’s strong drive that helped Force India retain fourth place in the constructors championship, despite a podium finish by their rivals Williams.
“All in all it’s encouraging to see both our cars come home in the points to maintain our fourth place in the championship." Mallya, 58, said. "Checo’s race was particularly noteworthy when you consider that he started from P16. It was a very mature drive and he did a fantastic job of looking after the tyres and making an alternative strategy work. His pace was excellent, he set the fastest lap of the race, and he didn’t put a wheel wrong.