Sergio Perez has praised his Sahara Force India team after claiming an unexpected podium finish in the Monaco Grand Prix from seventh on the grid.
The Mexican driver capitalised on tricky weather conditions and a competitive Force India machine to keep up with the front runners early on before a decision to pit slightly later onto intermediate rubber than those ahead would leapfrog him up to third place.
Far from feeling the pressure from Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel behind him, a move onto soft slicks for the final stint would instead see Perez initially make rapid in-roads into Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo ahead.
Setting a series of fastest laps on the improving track, though Perez would ultimately settle for position, his third place marks his sixth podium in F1 and only the fourth for the Force India team. it is a result he says he could not have expected under normal circumstances.
“It's definitely a race that you want to be on the podium in Monaco,” he said. “In normal conditions we wouldn't have made it onto the podium, we don't have the pace to do it.
“The conditions out there were extremely difficult, so easy to make a mistake. Every single lap you have to be really focused in the dry, so you can imagine in those conditions. I think the key was every stop we had today/ The first one I was coming into the pits for the inter tyres and then I asked how are the inter doing and they said not that good, so I guess I like to go a couple of laps more but that worked really well because we manage to jump Hulkenberg and another one, so that was really the key to our race.
“I was behind Sainz into the pits and my team did a fantastic stop so we were able to overtake him in the pit lane and then we had to wait for the moment with the last stop, going onto the slick tyre, pitting one lap before Rosberg and Vettel and managed to jump them and that was very, very good.
“It was very difficult out there on the slick tyre not to make a mistake, and then towards the end I had pressure from Vettel and I knew it was going to be very constant, so I was looking after my tyres, especially in these difficult conditions and towards the end it worked really well.
“It is a fantastic result for the whole team and everyone at my team deserves this one. I think we did the best job out there today, so I very, very pleased and happy.”
The result goes a long way to revitalising Perez and Force India's fortunes, the team jumping from seventh to fifth in the constructors' reckoning.