Perez hopeful Force India can find race pace for 100th GP weekend

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One of the stars of last year’s Russian Grand Prix was Sergio Perez, who scored both his and Sahara Force India’s most recent podium finish with third place.

But it’s been a genuinely challenging start to the year for both the Mexican driver and the team itself. Perez is yet to score a point through the first three races and outside of Nico Hulkenberg’s seventh place in Melbourne, he hasn’t banked points either.

It’s an important weekend for both drivers – it’s each of their 100th Grand Prix weekend although it is not their 100th Grand Prix start (Perez didn’t start 2011 Monaco and Canadian GPs, nor the 2014 Malaysian GP; Hulkenberg didn’t start the 2013 Australian and 2015 Belgian GPs).

Perez is therefore motivated to end the run of tough luck at a track that has now entered into his heart for the memories provided last year.

“When I come back here and I remember my great race that I had last year, not that long ago actually. It was a great feeling, a great achievement to the team,” Perez said during the FIA Press Conference on Thursday.

“And as you say my 100th race [weekend]. It has gone really quickly, I really hope I can have a great race on Sunday to have a full achievement, you know, because my 100th race, it’s something very special as a driver to achieve and hopefully there’s hundreds more to come.”

Perez added the team needs to find race pace and improve degradation. The latter point is interesting considering Perez is renowned for his tire saving ability.

“I think we have been affected a bit by strategy sometimes, the track position we’ve been having more than our pace,” he said. “I think clearly in the last race we did a great race. I think we have improved quite a bit.

“But still we need a bit more especially in the race pace. I think our quali pace over one lap is good. We have to improve our degradation and I think we have found the issues with the car. I think it’s just a question of time how quickly we can fix them.

“We are planning to have some upgrades for Barcelona. But I’m pretty confident it will be a good season for us, although right now we have zero points. We should have a couple of points already in the pocket, but the season is very long.”

Sochi has been a notoriously low degradation circuit but Perez thinks Pirelli’s three compounds – which have helped to spice up the opening rounds of the season – should make Sochi a more intriguing affair.

“This characteristic of Pirelli bringing three compounds might create a little bit of different strategies and at the same time more excitement in the race,” he said.

“I think last year the race was very exciting – but given the conditions and what happened all through the race. I think if we have a straightforward race we might see a more interesting race than in the past years. I don’t think we’re going to see many cars on one stop this weekend.”

IndyCar releases schedule for 2023 season

IndyCar schedule 2023
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The NTT IndyCar Series’ 2023 schedule will feature the same number of races and tracks as this season with some minor reshuffling of dates.

IndyCar will open the 2023 season March 5 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, and will conclude Sept. 10 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. The 107th Indy 500 will take place May 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 17-race schedule will conclude with a stretch of eight races in the final nine weeks.

“The NTT IndyCar Series is on an impactful upward trajectory, making progress at a pace that befits our thrilling style of competition,” Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “The 2023 season provides an opportunity to further build on this trend, bringing our sport and its stars to more markets and households and reaching new consumers across the globe.”

There will be 15 events on NBC: 13 races (including six of the final seven) plus Indy 500 qualifying May 20-21. There also are three races on USA Network and the Toronto race exclusively on Peacock. All races on NBC and USA also will have live simulstreams on Peacock.

In partnership with NBC Sports, the 2022 IndyCar season was the most-watched in six years and the most-watched across NBC Sports on record. The 2022 season also was the most streamed season on record.

“We’re very excited for our 2023 NTT IndyCar Series schedule and to build on this past season’s viewership milestones,” NBC Sports vice president of programming Mike Perman said in a release. “In providing comprehensive coverage across NBC, Peacock and USA Network, NBC Sports is once again looking forward to telling the stories of these world-class drivers and this compelling series.”

Notable elements on the 2023 schedule:

–There will be the same balance of seven road course races, five street courses and five ovals.

–St. Pete will be the season opener for the 13th time.

–The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix will move from Belle Isle to the streets of downtown.

–The NASCAR doubleheader weekend at the IMS road course will shift to mid-August.

–The World Wide Technology Raceway event will move from Saturday to Sunday.

Start times for the 2023 events will be announced at a later date.

Here’s the 2023 IndyCar schedule:


Date Race/Track Network/Platform
Sun., March 5 Streets of St. Petersburg NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 2 Texas Motor Speedway NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 16 Streets of Long Beach NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 30 Barber Motorsports Park NBC, Peacock
Sat., May 13 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) NBC, Peacock
Sun., May 28 The 107th Indianapolis 500 NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 4 Streets of Detroit NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 18 Road America USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 2 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 16 Streets of Toronto Peacock
Sat., July 22 Iowa Speedway – Race 1 NBC, Peacock
Sun., July 23 Iowa Speedway – Race 2 NBC, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 6 Streets of Nashville NBC, Peacock
Sat., Aug. 12 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) USA Network, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 27 World Wide Technology Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 3 Portland International Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 10 WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca NBC, Peacock

*dates and networks/platforms are subject to change