F1 » 14 October 2012
Perez: We could have been sixth
Sergio Perez reckons that he could have finished sixth with a clean run in the Korean Grand Prix.
Sergio Perez believes that he could - and should - have finished sixth in the Korean Grand Prix but, instead, had to settle for eleventh place after just failing to catch and pass an ailing Lewis Hamilton over the final few laps.
The entire Sauber team had an eventful race, with Perez's team-mate, Kamui Kobayashi, involved in an accident soon after the start, but the Mexican didn't get away clean, as he came close to collecting Kobayashi's eventual victim, Jenson Button, into turn one, before damaging the front of his car on the Force India ahead. Pérez was also unlucky at his first pit-stop, when he was delayed by a technical problem that dropped him back from sixth to 13th.
After a strong push towards the end of the race, however, the future McLaren driver was up into eleventh and, when Lewis Hamilton added a stray piece of artificial turf to ongoing rear suspension problems, Perez was able to close to within 0.37secs of a point, but needed another lap to overhaul the man he will be replacing at Woking next season.
“It is a big shame that we didn't score points today, as my first stint was really good, despite a little understeer which came from the incident after the start when I damaged the front of the car," he noted, "Our plan was good and the strategy seemed to work out but then, unfortunately, we had a problem at the pit-stop and could not recover from it. This was when we lost the race because I dropped behind a group of cars.
"Nevertheless, towards the end, it again looked like there was a chance of scoring a point. My car was quick, I overtook Paul [di Resta] and Lewis had a problem but, in the end, I just didn't manage to catch him. I think sixth would have been what we could have done in perfect circumstance.”
Head of track engineering Giampaolo Dall'Ara believes that eighth may have been a more realistic ambition had the race gone smoothly, although Sauber's failure to add a points to its constructors' tally was only damaged by Nico Hulkenberg taking sixth for Force India. While the Silverstone team remains 27 points behind Sauber, the Swiss outfit still has a 20-point deficit to Mercedes in fifth place after failing to capitalise on the Three Pointed Star's failure to score.
“After the start both our cars were damaged, and Sergio made contact with a car and damaged the nose cone," Dall'Ara confirmed, "He was well under way in his first stint. He was able to open the gap to Michael [Schumacher]. We timed his call so that he would have been out in front of a group of four cars, but then we had a problem with the green light not going on, which is something we have to look into. Because of this, he lost four seconds, was therefore behind the group, and was stuck there because he couldn't overtake.”
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