Perez has podium in sight after being handed rare F1 chance
Sergio Perez believes for the first time in his Formula 1 career he finally has a car capable of battling at the front from the start of a season.
Now in his seventh year with Racing Point, previously Force India, since joining in 2014 following a difficult season with McLaren, Perez has often been forced to wait until the mid-point of a campaign before being given an upgraded car with which he can score solid points as the base has been weak.
But Racing Point proved that its form and pace from pre-season testing was no fluke as Perez and Lance Stroll qualified sixth and ninth, with the Mexican sixth in a chaotic race, while the Canadian unfortunately retired.
But assessing what is possible for the team this year, Perez said: "It's the first time we've had a competitive package in our hands from race one. It's something we can work on.
"There is a good development package coming later on, so we certainly feel very confident. We're not on our nails all the time, so it's certainly something great.
"I've been with these guys for so many years, and it's great to see we finally have a competitive package where we can fight."
As to his own prospects on battling at the front, Perez added: "Throughout my whole career I don't think I've ever had the opportunity to do it.
"It's so close battling up there from race one, and hopefully soon a podium will come, and we can have a couple of podiums across the team during the season, that would be good."
Highlighting the extremely tight margins between the teams behind Mercedes and Red Bull, with Racing Point up against McLaren, in particular, Perez said: "The margin is extremely tight. Half a tenth changes your life completely in that mix.
"They maximised the weekend more than we did and hopefully this weekend we can turn it around. But it's extremely close. They were ahead in qualifying, then I overtook them in the race and they overtook back. I would say it's very much even and it's down to the drivers for now."
Perez feels his car's weak points are in low to medium speed, while "relatively strong" in high speed. He added: "I hope we have some margin to improve, I don't think we have maximised their car potential, so hopefully this weekend we can do another step."
GPFans is a multi-platform, multi-language brand dedicated to Formula One coverage. We bring you all the ins and outs of the sport, 24/7, everything from up-to-the-minute news and features to the latest viral stories and clips.
We believe that a new generation of exciting, outspoken drivers will make F1 more popular than ever before, and we want to give our users access to as much of their heroes as possible, on and off the track. From Lewis Hamilton to Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo to Sebastian Vettel, we provide in-depth analysis of every every Grand Prix in the season, from Australia to Abu Dhabi.
With Formula One under the new ownership of Liberty Media, how the sport is being covered is evolving, and GPFans will look to be at the heart of this progression into new media, as one of the fastest-growing sites covering the king of motorsports.