Having completed both free practice sessions in Valencia, Sergio Perez was delighted to report that suffered no repeat of the lingering after-effects from his Monaco crash that ruled him out of the Canadian Grand Prix two weeks ago.
The Mexican managed just one 90-minute session on the opening day in Montreal before telling the Sauber team that he was not yet well enough to resume his role alongside Kamui Kobayashi, and team MD Monisha Kaltenborn confirmed in Valencia that simply being in the cockpit had been disorientating for the GP2 graduate. Pedro de la Rosa filled in for the rest of the Canadian weekend but, despite being on stand-by for the European GP, appears set to return to his role as test driver at McLaren.
“More than anything, I'm happy to be back in the car," Perez confirmed at the end of a busy Friday, "Everything went okay, I feel well and I have done a lot of work over the last weeks to get there. I picked up speed quite quickly and this is good."
Typical of any racing driver, however, the youngster was less enthusiastic about his mount, with the C30 not living up to expectations after a day spent on set-up and tyre evaluations.
"Overall, it looks as if we are a bit off the pace here," Perez noted after ending the day 16th on the combined timesheets, "We have quite a lot of work to do tonight to improve the car [as] I find it difficult to get the medium [tyre] compound up to temperature. Low grip is a general problem of the circuit. It is pretty dusty and, even with the soft tyres, it is difficult to find a proper grip level. We will sort out several things and I hope for a good qualifying.”
Team-mate Kamui Kobayashi, who starred in last year's Valencia race, was similarly frustrated, finishing the day a place behind his rookie team-mate after struggling with various maladies on his Sauber.
“Today was difficult," he sighed, "In the morning, I had a throttle pedal problem and could not complete the scheduled programme but, in the afternoon, the car felt a bit better, and I was quite positive about putting in a good lap time. Unfortunately, when I was on new soft tyres, I flat-spotted the right front straight away. The long runs later in the session have been okay, [and] I think we will be better tomorrow than we look today.”
Technical director James Key confirmed that there was still work to do, but also pointed out that the drivers were still getting to grips with the circuit and probably had more potential to move up the pecking order.
"This morning, we ran just a single set of tyres on both cars in slippery track conditions, so it was mostly a session of aero and mechanical tests," he revealed, "Unfortunately, Kamui had a throttle pedal problem on his car, which cost some track time.
"In the afternoon, we ran our normal programme, comparing the tyres, as well as additional set-up work. In the end, we did long runs to understand how the tyres will last. We have a little work to do to improve in the middle sector of the circuit. However, neither driver was able to put his best sector times together so, therefore, our lap times from today are not entirely representative of our performance.”