You can’t look any further than…
Although Force India had high hopes for the start of the 2017 season, the change in regulations was always going to put a strain on what is already one of the most efficient teams on the grid. Finishing fourth in 2016’s constructor’s championship was no mean feat – mainly thanks to the performances of star driver Sergio Perez.
Bahrain didn’t see another underdog podium for the Mexican, but it did highlight the strengths that we’ve all become accustomed to; none more so than being aggressive with tyres when needed.
A recovery drive like the one Perez put in had to start with adversity, and after being hampered by yellow flags in Q1, a starting position of 18th would be the hurdle to overcome. By the end of lap one, Perez had made up five places to run 13th, making the most of the opening chaos.
With strong pace on his tyres during the opening stint – including passing Jolyon Palmer on lap 5 – an afternoon of tyre management may have been the order of the day – something that Perez not only excels in but also thrives.
“I had great tyre life in the first stint; we stayed out as long as we could and the Safety Car played into our hands just when I needed to make a pit stop,” he stated after the race.
Ah, yes; the Safety Car. Although fortunate in its timing, Perez had put the work in to get into a strong position, backing up the famous theory that the harder you work, the luckier you get. Restarts at this phase of the race can make or break an afternoon, and Perez knew it; he passed the slower Sauber of Marcus Ericsson immediately into Turn One to ensure he wasn’t held up, then further on in the lap snuck past former Force India teammate Nico Hulkenberg.
When the chequered flag fell, Perez brought home another decent points haul in seventh place, his 13th consecutive finish in the points and his 19th from the last 21 races. Look up “Mr Consistency” in the sports dictionary of cliches and Sergio Perez will be the featured image.
Performances like that can’t go without reward, so Sergio gets our coveted Top Dog award for the Bahrain Grand Prix. You can’t help but feel that there might be a few more coming his way before the season’s end…