13 March 2014
Australian Grand Prix: Perez ‘more complete’ F1 driver after McLaren
Sergio Perez believes that his year with McLaren will stand him in good stead for the new-look F1 of 2014.
Sergio Perez believes he is better equipped to deal with the major changes in this year's F1 rulebook following his short stay with the McLaren team in 2013.
The Mexican, who was dropped by the Woking squad in favour of Kevin Magnussen, lines up alongside Nico Hulkenberg in a potent Force India pairing this season, and insists that, despite the abrupt nature of his split from the former world champions, he learned enough to improve himself as a driver.
“When I look back on previous years, right now I feel a more complete driver in terms of knowing exactly what I want, what I need to feel comfortable and what I need to ask of the team,” he explained, “I'm definitely a more complete driver after my year at McLaren and that has helped a lot with my adaptation to [Force India].”
With a new F1 era bringing different engines, aerodynamics and power-boosting aids such as ERS, Perez will need to call on all of his experience, particularly as he has never driven a turbocharged car in any form of competition. Shrugging that nugget off, however, the Mexican is confident that he can use the sport's new look to his advantage.
“We have to understand a lot, both as a driver and a team,” he noted, “The race will be the most important thing this year, and qualifying won't be as important as before because, now, you have to manage your fuel, the tyre degradation, the power to see how you can get the best out of the car for the weekend.
“We have less grip and more engine torque, so you are more likely to overheat the rear tyres into the corners because you have less downforce, and to then go onto the power is more difficult because you have very limited grip. We'll see more drivers struggle once tyre degradation kicks in and I think the good drivers will come out best in this era.
“This can play to my strengths, but we will see. I'll prepare myself in the best possible way and we'll see what we can do. I certainly think, this year, the driver can make more difference.”
Although Force India has shown reasonably well in pre-season testing, with both Perez and Hulkenberg at the right end of the timesheets, the Mexican is wary of predicting great things just yet.
“I'm confident and I think we can be quite competitive,” he confided, “I don't think we're among the best, but I think we can be quite competitive and we have a good opportunity in the first races to do great results for the team. I always expected Force India to be good and I think we have the best engine right now, so I don't see why we can't fight and keep the momentum through the year. I think we have a good baseline.”
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