Sergio Perez salvaged a point for Sauber in the inaugural Indian Grand Prix last weekend and his performance at the all-new Buddh International Circuit earned him the praise of CEO Monisha Kaltenborn.
Perez went into the 17th round in the F1 2011 World Championship with it all to do, and after picking up a three-place penalty on Friday for a yellow flag infringement, he lined up way down the pack in 20th position. However having started on the harder and slower of the two tyres, the Swiss-based outfit took the decision to pit the rookie at the end of the opening lap and that meant he could then run on the softer tyres for the rest of the afternoon, gradually climbing back up the order and into the final points paying position 4 laps from the flag, when Bruno Senna pitted for his obligatory run on the hards.
“We are very happy with the point we scored today, particularly considering from where we started. Sergio drove an excellent race and showed a lot of fighting spirit. We proved today that we can fight, and this is exactly how we will approach the last two races,” said Kaltenborn.
“With Sergio we went for an unusual strategy,” added head of racing engineering, Giampaolo Dall'Ara. “He started on the hard tyre and pitted after lap one. He then drove a strong race and made up one place after the other. It was the right decision yesterday not to use new soft tyres in Q2, so he had two fresh sets today and could attack all the way along. After a bad day yesterday we fought back today. That's good for the morale in the whole team.”
Perez was also pleased to get into the points, especially given his error on Friday in practice landed with that three-place grid penalty.
“I'm very happy to have scored that point today,” Perez continued. “At least this way I can pay back something to the team after I made that mistake on Friday, for which I received the grid penalty of three places.
“We had a very good strategy today. It was a risky one as well, but it paid off, the team did a good job on that. I used the hard tyre only for the first lap. After that stop I was then stuck in traffic. Actually I expected the safety car to come out because in the first sector there was a lot of oil on the track. However, after I had passed Paul di Resta I was able to push.
“The first set of soft tyres was good. With the second I struggled a bit to warm them up, Adrian Sutil was really fast, and I couldn't catch him. Overall I think in qualifying we clearly didn't exploit the potential of the car, and we all know that we have to improve.”
Team-mate Kamui Kobayashi meanwhile failed to finish in the sister car and went out in an incident at the first corner.
“Unfortunately today my race is a very disappointing and short story. After the start I was hit from behind and immediately I saw smoke and fire coming from my car. Obviously there was severe damage, so I had to stop and switch the car off,” he explained.