Perez: It was very difficult to get Fernando but today the win was possible

Second placed Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber celebrates on the podium. Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday 25 March 2012.

Sergio Perez celebrates after scoring his first Formula 1 podium

Mar.25 (F1 Media) After becoming the first Mexican to stand on a Formula One podium in 41 years, Sergio Pérez admitted he could have won today’s Malaysian Grand Prix.

Segio Perez and Fernando Alonso were wheel to wheel at times at Sepang

Sergio and Fernando Alonso were wheel to wheel at times at Sepang

In the closing stages of the race, Pérez was chasing down Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso for the lead but ran wide on lap 49. The mistake lost Pérez four seconds on track and with just six laps left he was unable to mount another challenge before Alonso took the chequered flag. The Sauber driver hung to second, however, to become the first Mexican to claim a podium sport since since Pedro Rodriguez finished second at the Dutch Grand Prix of 1971.

Afterwards Pérez admitted the win was there for the taking. “It was very difficult to get Fernando but I think today the win was possible,” he said. “I mean, I was catching Fernando toward the end of the race, I knew I had to get him soon because (in) all the sectors with the high speed I was losing my front tyres with a lot of degradation, so it wasn’t easy. Towards the end I had some understeer into a left-hand corner, the quick one, and I ran wide enough to go into the wet and then I just lost control of the car and went straight and lost the fight for the victory.

Sergio Perez

Sergio celebrates with the Sauber crew

“I have to say the team has done an incredible job,” he said of Sauber. “They called me always on the right time, especially the first pit stop we did, it was really at the right moment. Unfortunately, Fernando pitted one lap earlier than us, towards the end of the race, when the track was already dry, and he opened some gap there, but even then we managed to get him. The pace was fantastic. I was really quick.

“In the end, second it’s a great result for the team. (It’s) many points and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season. It’s only the second race and hopefully we can keep improving our car to fight the big guys.”

Pérez’s outstanding drive will inevitably lead to more speculation linking him with Felipe Massa’s drive at Ferrari, but on a day when Massa had another difficult afternoon and finished 12th, the Mexican reaffirmed his commitment to Sauber. “My full commitment is with my team, with Sauber F1 team. It’s only the second race of the season and there’s still a long way to go so we have to keep improving, especially because we are a small team. The others can improve more so it’s important we remain focused. It’s only rumours. I will stay with Sauber for the whole season.”

  • Joe Kinnear

    IMO Perez’s going-wide incident was Sauber’s mistake. He was clearly catching up with Alonso, it was just a matter of one more lap, when the team decided to go on the radio and tell him to back off and play safe – maintain 2nd. WT hell? You DONT tell a driver that has absolutely nothing to lose to back off from an absolutely possible win.. and break his concentration! In a likely one-on-one situation Alonso would CERTAINLY back off since Ferrari was more desperate for points! Couldn’t Sauber figure that out? Sure enough, the dumb radio call made Perez lose his concentration a few corners afterwards…. and went wide.