Sergio Pérez may have only driven in the second free practice session on Friday, but the Mexican was pleased with the pace of the VJM11 around the Sochi Autodrom, with his best time of the day seeing him ending the session up in seventh place overall.
Pérez did not participate in the first session in Russia as his Racing Point Force India F1 Team gave an opportunity for test driver Nicholas Latifi to drive, but as soon as he hit the track in the afternoon, he was immediately on the pace, with his best time of 1:35.122 placing him seventh and the best of the rest behind the leading three teams.
He knows the challenge of putting together the best lap possible during the all-important Qualifying session on Saturday is still to come, but Pérez has been encouraged by the pace of the car so far this weekend, and it continues the positive form they have shown since the summer break.
“I drove the car this afternoon and the pace looked competitive straight away,” said Pérez. “I think we can keep up the form we have shown since the summer break and the car feels good.
“The challenge is making sure we put everything together tomorrow because qualifying is so important here. We’ve seen how difficult it can be to overtake here, even with a quicker car.
“It’s hard to know how the track will evolve, but we have the data and information to make the right decisions tonight.”
Pérez took over the car from Latifi, who had finished seventeenth fastest in the morning session at the Sochi Autodrom, with the Canadian feeling at first hand the progress the team has made with the VJM11 since the last time he drove it back at the Hungaroring in August.
“The team is still learning about the new upgrade package and I am glad I could help collect more data on those test items,” said Latifi. “I ran on two different tyre compounds – the ultrasoft and the hypersoft – and it was a straightforward session keeping to the run plan.
“It has been a couple of months since I drove the car and I could definitely feel the progress the team has made recently.”