Sergio Perez says Sauber should be back on form in Japan next weekend as the Mexican seeks to add to his three podium finishes this season.
Perez, who goes into the event with his F1 future secure after inking a deal with McLaren for 2013, was unable to build on his impressive performance at Monza during the Singapore Grand Prix as Sauber struggled to extract more speed from the C31 and had to settle for tenth spot – albeit only thanks to the fact that Mark Webber picked up a penalty post-race.
Next weekend will be just the second time that Perez has competed at Suzuki on the back of a debut last year that saw him come through the field to score, with the 22-year-old eager to impress again this time around.
“I really like the Suzuka Circuit,” he said. “Last year I drove there for the first time and enjoyed it an awful lot. I finished eighth after having started from 17th because we had a problem in qualifying.
“After underperforming in Singapore, in Japan I am expecting our car to again to be as good as it used to be and we should be strong in the high-speed corners. The circuit has got some quite nice sections and corner combinations. Thanks to the Japanese fans the atmosphere there is really great and our team gets a lot of support because it is Kamui's home race. I am very much looking forward to it.”
Head of Track Engineering Giampaolo Dall'Ara insisted that Suzuka was one of the most challenging circuits on the calendar but joined Perez and team-mate Kamui Kobayashi in predicting a strong weekend.
“Suzuka is a very complex and technical track,” he said. “It requires a well-balanced car and it is very challenging for the drivers. The tyres will be the hard and the soft compounds, which should be fine for this track. Due to the abrasive surface and the fast corners in the first sector, which put a high load on the tyres, there should be no issues with warming them up.
“We will be introducing a new aero package in Japan, including a new front wing for the C31. Looking at the requirements of this track I expect our car to be very competitive there.”