Sergio Perez may be hoping for better luck in this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix, but also expects the Force India team to be even more competitive than it was on a challenging weekend in Melbourne.
The Mexican sneaked the final point of the Australian GP weekend when Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo was excluded, but reckons that, with better fortune early on in the race, he could have secured a place in the top ten without a leg up from the stewards.
“It was really a shame,” he said of the lap one incident that dropped him to the tail of the field, “We had a good start and a great first few corners, and we were up to tenth place. Then [Esteban] Gutierrez locked his rears and came from nowhere. I actually saw him in my mirrors, but I was already turning into the corner. Once he hit me, I was just a passenger; there was not much I could do, I got a puncture and had to pit.”
Saubers continued to hamper Perez's push for points on his Force India debut, but the Mexican was able to move up the order and put himself in position to benefit from Ricciardo's downfall.
“The safety car helped us and we managed to recover some positions, but the main issue of my race was the time spent behind Adrian [Sutil], which cost me a lot,” he reflected, “I think the pace was definitely in the car to score more points, but when you have to fight from the back it puts you in a difficult position.”
With team-mate Nico Hulkenberg qualifying and finishing seventh – before being promoted to sixth post-race – Force India had a fruitful weekend 'down under', but Perez believes that there is more to come when both cars are able to run cleanly to the flag.
“I think, as a team, we are moving in the right direction and there were lots of positives to take away from Australia,” he confirmed, “It was the first race and we, as everyone else on the grid, are still learning a lot about the new car. We have seen some encouraging signs though, and collected a lot of data that can be put to use for the next few races, starting in Sepang.
“I believe Malaysia can be a very good race for us, so let's see how we can perform there. I think Melbourne was a more difficult one for us and, with a hotter track and more rear tyre degradation for everyone, we can be stronger. I'm counting the days to Malaysia to recover what we couldn't achieve in Australia. I have good memories of this track and I want to build on my previous results there.”