Sergio Perez says his performance in the Bahrain Grand Prix proves he can justify his place at McLaren.
Perez finished sixth after beating his team mate and Fernando Alonso in tough wheel-to-wheel battles.
“We’ve been through some very difficult moments but I think this is the start of our season,” said Perez. “I never lost my confidence, I always believed in myself. I’ve shown the critics that I can do a good job.”
Perez came in for some criticism after lackluster performances in the early races of the season.
He drew fire from Kimi Raikkonen for the manner in which he defended his position in China. But, as was also the case with Alonso in Bahrain, the stewards were unmoved by the complaints of Perez’s rivals.
Perez focused on honing his race set-up in Bahrain which allowed him to go on the attack from 12th on the grid.
“The strategy and the pace of the car allows you to be different,” said Perez. “You are not defending, you are attacking.”
Team mate Jenson Button also felt Perez had overstepped the mark in Bahrain but the pair resolved their differences:
Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.
Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.
Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.
“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.
“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.
“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”
Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.
“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.
“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”