Sergio Perez says the Japanese Grand Prix was an ‘easy race’ as the Mexican finished seventh amidst team orders that forbid him to attack his team-mate Esteban Ocon in the latter stages.
Perez, who started the race seventh, had a relatively lonely race, but caught his team-mate in the second half as Ocon was held up by a late stopping Renault Sport Formula 1 Team racer Nico Hulkenberg.
Perez asked the team if he was allowed to “attack” the other Force India but following various incidents throughout the year, particularly in Azerbaijan and Belgium, the team told Perez to hold station, banking yet more points for the team currently fourth in the constructors’ championship.
Despite the team order, Perez says he is happy with the result and understands the team’s decision.
“I am very happy for the team with this great result, which was definitely the maximum we could achieve today.” says Perez. “It was a relatively easy race: we had a strong qualifying session and we had good race pace, so we spent a lot of time on our own.
“I felt I was quicker than Esteban in the second stint and I had an opportunity to overtake him at the final restart, but we followed the team’s instructions. We knew this would be the case so it wasn’t a surprise, and swapping us wouldn’t have made a difference in terms of points for the team, so I understand the team’s perspective.
“In the end, Esteban did a great job during the whole weekend. The last two races have been really strong for us and I am very pleased with the results we have achieved.
Throughout the weekend, Perez carried the Fuerza Mexico message on his crash helmet and car following the devastating earthquake that struck his home country and was grateful to Formula One for showing its support too.
“The ‘Fuerza Mexico’ message on the podium before the race meant a lot to me and I’d like to say ‘thank you’ to everyone in the paddock.
“The support my country has received in the last few weeks has been incredible and I hope we can keep helping, especially as we get ready for the race in Mexico later this month.”