Sergio Perez has admitted that, after tasting champagne for a third time in 2012 at the Italian Grand Prix, he is yearning for a maiden F1 victory to complete his set.
The Sauber driver was among the stars of the Monza race, battling back from a disappointing qualifying result to finish second between championship contenders Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. The result added to earlier top three performances at Sepang - where Perez challenged Alonso for victory - and Montreal, where he again utilised the Sauber's ability to manage its tyres better than some other cars to pass the Spaniard in the closing stages and finish third. With his name being linked to a possible ride with the Scuderia in 2013, the Mexican is keen to show that he has what it takes to reach the top step.
" I want to win - and I hope sooner rather than later," he told journalists after the Italian race, "I already have a second and a third, and now I want my first victory to come - and I hope it can come before the end of the season."
With uncertainty continuing to surround Felipe Massa's place at Ferrari, Perez is among several names in the frame to replace the Brazilian, even through he insists that he is happy in his current seat at Sauber. Despite that assertion, however, he continues to face questions about possibly 'graduating' from the Ferrari Academy and switching to race for the Scuderia full-time.
"I'm fighting for my team and will always fight for the team that I'm in," he said in response to the suggestion that beating Alonso at Monza may have hurt his chances of partnering the Spaniard in 2013, "I will always give the maximum I can - and I will fight any driver, no matter if it's Fernando or Lewis. I will fight for my team to get the result – and I think every driver will do the same."
Despite that, he admitted that it had been a pleasant experience joining the local hero on the podium at the end of the Italian Grand Prix.
"I think it definitely is a very nice podium to be on, because it's very special to see, he explained, "It's a very special race, [with an atmosphere] which you don't feel anywhere else. So, to have my first European podium in F1 is great and it's a very special place to have it. I think it was a fantastic race and I'm very pleased with the result."
Having overcome sickness that affected him all weekend, Perez revealed that he had been surprised by Sauber's form at Monza, and suggested that there could be more to come from the C30 in Singapore, particularly as it is due to receive the team's next upgrade package ahead of the first of the late-season 'flyaways'.
"I definitely expect to be better than here, but here was a big surprise for us," the Mexican confirmed, "I think the strategy made a very big difference for us, because we had the pace to be where we finished today.
"I think Singapore will definitely be a better one - I don't think [it'll be] the best for us but, if we come here and look better, I think we can be competitive. If you consider we lose half a second on the straights here, I think we can be quite competitive in Singapore."