As Formula 1 revels in a well-deserved few weeks of respite on its summer break, it is a time for the teams to sit back, take stock and learn from the lessons enjoyed and endured during an action-packed first-half to the 2015 season.

For Sahara Force India driver Sergio Perez however, the hiatus comes just as his season is really getting going, the belated arrival of the B-specification VJM08 at Silverstone paving the way for a prospect-filled end to a year that otherwise began with notable pessimism.

"We expected to be on zero points in the first few rounds. From round one up to seven and eight when we brought the upgrade we didn't expect to have any points," he says when discussing his predictions coming into the season after a fraught run up to Australia. The reality proved rather more different though.

The 'A-spec' VJM08 developed into a dependable and quick contender, despite initial reservations

With the VJM08 - which Force India openly admitted to being a relatively minor refresh of last year's VJM07 - only turning a wheel for the first time with just over two days of pre-season testing remaining, Perez and team-mate Nico Hulkenberg arguably had just reason to expect the worst when the lights went green in Australia.

Fortunately, at least in those early stages of the season, 'ageing' can also mean 'dependable' in F1, so as the VJM08 kept going where others fell by the wayside, it steadily continued developing into a contender that was quick, yet never once missed a beat. Between Perez and Hulkenberg, Force India suffered just one retirement across eight rounds and 16 starts.

A true testament to the perseverance of the Force India team to squeeze every ounce of speed from the car, Perez says he pushed himself '120 per cent' to reward it for its efforts, scoring points himself in Australia, Bahrain - which he regards as his seasonal highlight -, Monaco and Austria, while Hulkenberg did his bit in Australia, Canada and Austria.

"I had a good run of four or five races where I took 120% out of the car," he continued. "All the simulations suggested that we were always out of the points so what we did up to there was a very good effort from the team.

"The biggest highlight was Bahrain with the eighth place with the lack of performance was a really special result."

The B-specification VJM08 has already shown impressive pace and Perez is confident there is much more to come...

It all added up to placing Force India fifth in the constructors' standings before the new car had even debuted, a remarkable result that hasn't been lost on Perez.

"The team has done a tremendous job up to now. It is a part of the year where we can be quite happy with what we achieved but we know that there is still more to come from the team. The team is working very hard and we were surprised with what we had but the second half has to be two or three times better than what we have done.

With expectations exceeded, Perez can now look forward to a brighter second-half to the year, often regarded as a period of nervousness for drivers as the smaller budget teams begin to plateau in their development trajectory. However, with the untapped potential of the new VJM08 beneath him, Perez is predicting a big push in the final races.

"There is a lot more to come. I think we can be optimistic for the rest of the year. With this new car it takes some time and once I adapt to it I see no reason why I can't drive like I did in the first half.

"You normally make these steps at the end and start of a year so it was a bit of a surprise but it also helps you to build experience. I think there is plenty to improve."

Checo has the honour of leading the home charge when Mexico makes its return to the F1 calendar in November

Looking forward, there is one clear stand-out in the diary for Perez though, as he prepares to headline in front of his adoring home fans when F1 returns to Mexico for the first time since 1992. Held at the revamped and updated Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit, Perez cannot wait to be the star attraction.

"They are making really good progress so I am really looking forward to be driving in my home country. I really want to be there and drive there. I think the track itself is a really good one and I hope we can have some really good racing. "


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