Sergio Pérez believes that the Sahara Force India F1 Team are returning to form after a shaky start to the 2018 season.
After two consecutive top four finishes in the Constructors’ Championship, Force India currently stand in ninth position with a solitary point, scored by Pérez’s team-mate Esteban Ocon in Bahrain. It marks the team’s worst start to a season since 2009, where they failed to score in the first three rounds.
The Silverstone based team’s problems reportedly lie in a lack of correlation between on-track performance and projected windtunnel readings only discovered after a lacklustre pre-season testing period in Barcelona, just weeks before the season-opening race in Melbourne, Australia.
However, Pérez is certain that the progress Force India have made is clear to see, revealing he is now satisfied with the balance of the VJM11.
“The progress we have made since Melbourne was visible in Shanghai and I’m feeling happier with the balance of the car now,” said Pérez.
“The first few races haven’t gone very smoothly for me. I think I’ve been unlucky, especially in Bahrain, but I know it sometimes happens in racing.”
Pérez registered eleventh and twelfth placed finishes in Australia and China respectively, with Bahrain proving to be a more difficult challenge for the Mexican, who has expressed his confusion over a lack of interest in his services from the front-running teams, with numerous seats undecided for 2019.
“China was really disappointing because I lost out on lap one and there was no way to recover to the points,” he bemoaned.
“Our pace was competitive and we took another step forward with the car performance, but things just didn’t work out on race day.”
Looking ahead to this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Pérez has high hopes for a better showing. Last year’s chaotic race saw the two Force India’s clash – an incident that cost them a potential maiden victory. The 28-year-old hopes that Baku’s emphasis on top speed will hold the Mercedes powered car in good stead.
Pérez scored a popular podium in the city’s inaugural race in 2016 – when it ran under the European Grand Prix tag.
“I think Baku will be interesting because it’s all about good top speed and being confident on the brakes,” he added. “I love the challenge of street tracks and I really enjoy driving here.
“It only feels like yesterday we were racing in Baku, but I guess it’s a bit earlier in the calendar this year. It’s already a track with a big reputation and I have special memories from 2016 and our podium.
“It’s a track where we have always been competitive so I want to go there this year and score points.”