Somewhat fortuitously, Sergio Perez has the opportunity to reprise his starring effort of a year ago in Malaysia in an underdog role once again.
The difficult weekend for McLaren in Melbourne has lowered expectations for the team heading into Malaysia. Perez’s teammate Jenson Button has gone so far as to say the McLaren won’t win a race this year in its current configuration.
For Perez, who probably would have won in last year’s rain-drenched race in a faster Sauber Ferrari before sliding off course while chasing Fernando Alonso, it’s a sterling opportunity to punch above his and the team’s weight once again.
“For me, Sepang holds many happy memories – I had one of the best races of my career there last year where I was able to push Fernando for victory until the closing laps,” he said. “It’s a fantastic circuit, really fast and demanding. It would be great to pull off another unexpected result for the team this year.”
The Mexican driver still finished second, marking his first of three podium finishes he secured for the Swiss team a year ago.
Perez realizes that the team’s main objective is just maximizing its package, and is probably doubtful to contend for the victory unless the race becomes a tire or weather lottery. One of his noted strong suits is his ability to take it easy on the tires throughout a stint.
“Last weekend’s race was a difficult one for everybody on the team, but it’s shown us exactly what we need to do to close down the gap to the leaders,” he admitted. “This weekend in Malaysia will be about trying to maximize the package we have while knowing that it’s not going to be enough to allow us to fight for overall victory.”