F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain - Practice

Perez aiming for podium finish after strong qualifying

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Force India’s Sergio Perez has set his sights on a podium finish after a scintillating display during qualifying today that means he will start tomorrow’s Bahrain Grand Prix from fourth place.

The Mexican driver qualified in fifth, but following Daniel Ricciardo’s grid penalty for an incident at the Malaysian Grand Prix, he will gain a position and equal his best starting slot of fourth at the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix.

“It was definitely a great qualifying session and the team did a fantastic job to give me such a competitive car,” Perez explained. “After the problems we had in the first two races I feel this has been the first real opportunity to show the potential of the car.”

Perez’s Australian Grand Prix was ruined by an incident on lap one, but he didn’t even make it that far in Malaysia as a problem on the VJM07 car meant that he could not start the race. However, he was somewhat disappointed with P5, and believes that he could have challenged Valtteri Bottas for fourth.

“I believe we could have been even closer to the front, but I couldn’t warm up my brakes enough on the out lap of my final run in Q3 and so I didn’t improve,” he said.

“We’re already thinking about tomorrow and I think the clear target must be to aim for the podium. We’re in the best possible position to fight at the front and I’m going to make the most of it. I’ve got some very good memories of this track but tomorrow I want to create even better ones.”

Perez is looking to revive his Formula 1 career with Force India after a difficult year at McLaren in 2013. The team struggled immensely with the MP4-28 car and failed to score a single podium finish across the course of the season, but Perez was still ousted in favor of rookie Kevin Magnussen who proved his ability with a podium on debut in Australia.

However, if the Mexican driver can indeed claim just the second podium in Force India’s history tomorrow, it would go a long way to silencing the naysayers who may have written him off.

Sainz keen to race in Russia; decision to be made on Sunday

xxxx during final practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on October 10, 2015 in Sochi, Russia.
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Carlos Sainz Jr. has been discharged from hospital in Sochi following his practice accident, and is now hoping to take part in tomorrow’s Russian Grand Prix.

Sainz crashed at turn 13 with considerable force during final practice on Saturday, pitching underneath the TecPro barrier that made extracting him from the car difficult.

After 20 minutes, the rescue staff on site were able to remove Sainz from the car before transporting him in an ambulance to the medical centre.

Sainz gave a thumbs up to fans on the way there, and tweeted from hospital that he was unharmed after undergoing a number of checks.

In a statement issued by Toro Rosso after qualifying on Saturday, it was confirmed that Sainz had been discharged from hospital. The Spaniard has now set his sights on starting tomorrow’s race.

“My back and my neck are just a bit sore from the accident, but I’m totally ready,” Sainz said. “Hopefully tomorrow I will wake up in a good shape and maybe I can try and race – this is definitely the intention!

“Obviously we need to be cautious. I’ve always been conscious. As soon as the accident happened I tried to talk to the team on the radio, but it wasn’t working and those must have been some scary moments.

“I’d like to thank everyone for their support, it’s really nice to receive all your messages at a moment like this one! I hope to see you all tomorrow out there!”

Team principal Franz Tost confirmed that a decision will be made on Sainz’s participation following further medical checks on Sunday before clarifying the suspected cause of the accident.

“I’m very happy that Carlos is okay and out of hospital, this is the most important thing for us,” Tost said. “I hope he will have a good night’s sleep and tomorrow morning he will have to go through the FIA medical checks to decide if he will be able to take part in tomorrow’s race.

“Now, just to clarify what happened. Prior to the accident, Carlos had completed a long-run on the option tire, before changing to the prime to do two further laps. On primes the grip level is lower.

“In addition he had changed the brake shape on the steering wheel, which meant he had more braking rearwards. A combination of these two factors might have been the cause of the rears locking, which made the car uncontrollable.”

Should Sainz be deemed fit by the FIA medical delegate, he will have to start the race from the pit lane.

The Russian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 6:30am ET on Sunday.

Hamilton unsure about Mercedes’ race pace in Russia

xxxx during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on October 10, 2015 in Sochi, Russia.
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Lewis Hamilton remains unsure about Mercedes’ race pace after losing the majority of practice running to a number of incidents on Friday and Saturday.

The entire field was limited to just one hour of dry running on Friday when a diesel spillage caused the session to be shortened.

Heavy rain washed out FP2, and FP3 was red flagged after 35 minutes when Carlos Sainz Jr. crashed hard at turn 13.

Mercedes showed few signs of weakness in qualifying, though, as it locked out the front row of the grid with Nico Rosberg scoring his third pole position of the season.

Hamilton admitted that he made a mistake on his final lap in Q3, but is unsure how Mercedes will shape up in the race compared to the rest of the field.

“Everyone was in the same position today with the limited practice,” Hamilton said. “I didn’t get a hooked-up lap together but Nico did, so well done to him.

“It’s going to be a long race tomorrow though, so hopefully I might have a chance. There’s a long run down to turn two, so we’ll both be studying the line to take tonight. Maybe I can get a good start, we’ll see.

“We haven’t done a lot of laps, so I’m not really sure what our pace is like compared to the others. Our goal in the race as always is to finish well for the team, so we’ll be trying to do that.”

The Russian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 6:30am ET on Sunday.