Sergio Perez believes that his return to the podium at the Canadian Grand Prix
could spell the end of a disappointing run for Sauber bridging the gap back to his second place in the Malaysian Grand Prix
The Mexican had failed to add to his personal tally since chasing Fernando Alonso
across the line at Sepang, posting three eleventh places around a DNF in Spain, but returned to the scorers in style by converting 15th on the grid into third place in Montreal. The key to his success was, once again, making the softer compound Pirellis last longer than most of his rivals, running to lap 41 - six beyond half-distance - on his first set and then taking the replacements 29 laps to the finish. Qualifying outside the top ten allowed Perez to fit a new set of the soft compound for the start, with a similarly new set of the supersofts waiting for the run to the finish.
"It was a great race for the whole team because, after such a disappointing qualifying that we had yesterday, with so little pace as well, we had to fight in a different way with the strategy," he admitted, "We didn't have any reference on the long runs [as], on the long runs we did, it was 10-15°C less track temperature. So, it was a lottery, basically, but I think the team has done a great job with the stop and the strategy, myself too, keeping the tyres alive and being so consistent.
"It's been a great result for the whole team. We have been so unlucky since Malaysia - we had the pace but, for some reason or another, we didn't manage to get the result in the end. I think it's great to come back into the points with another podium. It's a great result for the team after such a bad day we had yesterday. We had a lot of trouble with the brakes. It's a great boost for the team, so hopefully we can keep this way. We have been very unlucky, [with] what happened in Monaco, for example. We were very quick there, and in Barcelona as well."
Finishing in the top three had been far from Perez's mind when he took his place on the inside of row eight of the grid, but the result came to him as each phase of his race worked out well.
"To be honest, [it wasn't] until I passed Fernando because, starting 15th, the last thing you would think about is ending up on the podium," he explained, "We went quite aggressive, [and] the first stint was quite good. Then the stop was very good, [and] the second stint was really, really good. I managed to overtake some cars in difficult manoeuvres, [and] I saw that degradation was not so high for me. I could manage my pace well, then I managed to get some other drivers."
Asked whether the result was an true indication of Sauber's potential for the rest of the year, Perez said that he believed the team could be a contender for serious points wherever it went.
"The thing is we long to fight for a podium every race," he pointed out, "Today was a very crazy race, as we have had many of this year, but I think we have the potential to do it. This has to be the target, to get the first win this season for our team. Every podium is special, especially when it's only your second podium in F1. It's a very special feeling.
"In the position that I am with my team, we are still fighting to get to the top. It's great, every opportunity I have to show my potential, because you don't know how many opportunities you will have."