Perez believes Bahrain drive silenced his critics

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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:

Andretti Autosport picks James Hinchcliffe for last 3 races of season

Andretti Autosport James Hinchcliffe
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James Hinchcliffe will finish the NTT IndyCar Series season for Andretti Autosport, replacing Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda.

The team made the announcement Friday afternoon that Hinchcliffe will return after racing for Andretti at Texas Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Indianapolis 500.

Hinchcliffe, who also has worked as an IndyCar on NBC analyst and pit reporter, will race in the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

“It’s always unfortunate to have to change drivers this far into a season, but we have to look at finishing the year the best we can for the 26 team and start evaluating and looking at options for 2021,” team owner Michael Andretti said in a release. “James has an existing relationship with our team that we’d love to build on and it makes the most sense for him to step in for these last three races. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

Hinchcliffe has a season-best finish of seventh in the Indy 500. He had been working on trying to put together a deal for next season after scrambling to secure a partial schedule this year when he lost his ride at Arrow McLaren SP after 2020 with a year left on his deal.

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“I know, probably better than most, what Zach is feeling right now, and I have to say that he has handled everything about as class act as you can,” Hinchcliffe said. “I’ve known Zach as a teammate, before that as a colleague and even before that as a friend, and he is a guy that I respect in every way. I know he is a fighter and will fight back to where he wants to be.

“For me now, my focus is 100% on racing the Harvest GP and getting the best possible results for Gainbridge, for Honda, for Michael and for the team. I obviously haven’t been on a road course in a while, but at least the last time I was, it was here at IMS! Hopefully that puts us in a good position to go out there and have a strong weekend.”