Sergio Perez: Target is to “keep improving” after Bahrain podium

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Formula One returns to action this coming weekend in China, and Force India’s Sergio Perez is ready to build upon his podium finish in the most recent race at Bahrain.

Perez fought off Daniel Ricciardo to earn his first podium since the 2012 season and just the second in the Silverstone team’s history (Giancarlo Fisichella, 2009, Belgium). Now, the Mexican hopes that he can remain a podium threat, starting with the Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai.

“The target is to move on, keep improving and target more podiums,” he said in a team release. “Bahrain was the first real opportunity I had to develop the car through the weekend without any issues, so it felt like my season really started there.

“Now we need to think about how we can do better in China. At the same time, we must not get carried away because we know how competitive Formula One is and how things can change very quickly.”

But while China beckons, Perez still understandably is on a high after his hard-earned result in the desert.

“To get the podium in Bahrain was great,” he said. “My last podium was a long time ago, so to fight at the front again feels good. We knew we were quick and I made sure I grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

“It’s a great result for this team and a big boost of confidence for me.”

That boost can’t hurt Perez as he looks to post a strong run at Shanghai, a circuit that has not been an especially strong one for him in his career. In the last two Chinese Grand Prix, he’s fallen just short of the points with 11th place finishes in 2012 with Sauber and in 2013 with McLaren.

But with Force India clearly enjoying its advantage with the Mercedes engine, his expectations will no doubt be much higher than that this time around. That’s certainly the case for his boss, team owner Vijay Mallya.

“I think we’ve shown in the first few races that we have produced a competitive car,” he said in the same release. “Bahrain was not just a one-off and we’ve been improving with each race.

“…The aim is to repeat the podium, but each race is different and the field is so competitive that it’s impossible to predict. Some tracks will suit us more than others, but I want to see us up there fighting towards the front.”

Newgarden fastest as Castroneves returns in weather-shortened Barber test

Photo: IndyCar
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The Verizon IndyCar Series took to Barber Motorsports Park on Tuesday for an open test, with 24 entries tackling the 2.38-mile road course.

Weather intervened in the afternoon, preventing nearly the entire field from going out, but the weather held off during the morning enough for one session to be run in its entirety.

Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden led the way, with a quick lap of 1:07.979, ahead of Team Penske teammates Will Power and Helio Castroneves. For Castroneves, this marked his first IndyCar outing of 2018.

Helio Castroneves was back in an IndyCar on Tuesday at Barber Motorsports Park. Photo: IndyCar

Sporting the Pennzoil “yellow submarine” paint scheme, Castroneves turned 41 laps around Barber in the morning session, with a quick lap of 1:08.315. He was also the only driver to venture out on track in the afternoon, completing eight laps.

The Dale Coyne Racing duo of Sebastien Bourdais and Zachary Claman De Melo completed the top five.

Results are below.