It will inevitably get overlooked in the Sebastian Vettel championship coronation, but in fifth place in yesterday’s Indian Grand Prix, Sergio Perez had his best drive yet for McLaren.
Perez and teammate Jenson Button have struggled to extract the maximum of a difficult chassis this season and Button had the team’s only prior top-five finish, fifth at China way back in April.
But Perez ran in the top three early during the first pit stop sequence, and surged from seventh to fifth late in a DRS-assisted double move at Turn 4 on Lewis Hamilton and the ailing Kimi Raikkonen, whose tires had gone off.
“In the closing laps, it was a fantastic feeling to get past Kimi [Raikkonen] and Lewis [Hamilton] in a single move,” he said. “I just braked as late as I could for Turn 4 to try and keep Lewis behind – and I managed to do it. It’s been a tough season, but today’s result is a promising sign and really motivates the whole workforce ahead of the last three races, where we’ll be doing our best to get more strong finishes under our belts.”
There’s been some discussion regarding Perez’s future at McLaren, but a quote from Sam Michael read during the NBCSN race broadcast did all but confirm the same driver lineup for the last season of McLaren Mercedes, before the team switches to Honda in 2015.
Perez, obviously, did himself no harm on Sunday. The Mexican scored the first three podium finishes of his career a year ago for Sauber.
“Unlike the past two or three weekends, I was finally able to enjoy a clean race without any bad luck! Fifth place is a great result for me. Without question, I have a lot of pressure on my shoulders, but it’s always sweeter when you perform well while under pressure. I’m extremely satisfied,” he said.