Sergio Perez insists he will focus on his 'own race' after confirming his impressive pace in free practice by qualifying fourth for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Having raised eyebrows with his run to third place in free practice yesterday, Perez maintained his impressive form in FP3 and during the opening stages of qualifying as the closest rival to the all-dominant Mercedes'.
Though he couldn't quite retain that position when it mattered in Q3 – a result that would have marked Force India's best start since the 2009 Brazilian Grand Prix -, he was thrilled to land a spot on the second row of the grid in fourth.
“It was a pretty good qualifying. Not just my best lap, but all the way through I was feeling comfortable with the car and able to extract the maximum out of it and having a good couple of laps in qualifying was definitely good.
“In the end, my second run the temperature on the rear developed higher and that pushed a bit of front so I had a bit too much understeer on my last run, which was still a very strong lap but I was not able to improve my lap time. I think my first lap in Q3 was very strong.”
Dismissing the suggestion he could have bettered Kimi Raikkonen's eventual third place winning time, though Perez admits he has a challenge ahead of him to maintain his lofty position, he is confident he can still be competitive over a race distance.
“When you look at it, it was really the maximum. My Q3 run one was very strong, my second one wasn't as strong but to beat that one was difficult
“I am looking ahead - I have nothing to lose. I think my championship position is pretty much safe from behind, so I am looking ahead. We have very quick cars behind us so it will be interesting to see what we can do.
“We have to do our own race and be clever enough to get the best possible result. We have outscored the car by three or four places today, so tomorrow will be a challenge to keep the position. But I am looking forward to fighting Kimi.”