Date: 26th March 2012 at 3:48pm
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The surprise result of the weekend was the second place finish of Sauber’s Sergio Perez.

It was by far the best result for either Mexican driver Perez or the team itself, but some were left wondering if they could have even had more?

It certainly wasn’t expected when the teams went out on Friday morning, Perez was over 3 seconds per lap off the pace in 20th place at the end of free practice 1, while in free practice 2 nothing really changed, he was still 2.7 seconds behind Hamilton and was still only 18th on the time sheets.

On Saturday morning things were looking slightly better for Perez, he was only 1.3 seconds slower than Rosberg who was quickest and that time was good enough to get the Sauber into 12th place in P3 and the steady improvement was enough to see Perez get through to Q3 to qualify 10th, which was soon to be 9th once the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen was penalised for a gear box change.

?I am very happy we made it into Q3. Considering all the balance problems we had yesterday that we could not fully explain, it was a great achievement today for the team. Also I think our car is still better in race conditions than in qualifying form, so we should have good potential for tomorrow?s race. For some reason it is difficult to find proper grip with the medium compound tyres, but the changes we made after free practice helped a bit. It will be a tough race tomorrow for the car, the tyres and the drivers. I will fight and bring home as many points as possible.? he told formula1.com.

While Perez might have thought his car was better in race conditions and he was set to fight for as many points as possible, it’s unlikely he would have thought he had a potentially race winning car, but that’s what it proved to be.

On the drying track, Perez had much more race speed in comparison to Hamilton who was third and Perez was also able to narrow the gap towards the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso, but just as the Sauber was looking likely to be making a move on Alonso for the lead of the race, a radio message informed the young Mexican, who had been linked with a move to Ferrari all week, that it was potentially raining in turn one (at the end of the drs zone) and that he should not risk the 18 points he was set to win by coming second.

Within half a lap of that communication Perez ran wide on one of the slippery corners and he lost all the momentum he had built up to close the gap.

?It is a great day for me. The team did a very good job and I feel very happy for them. It is a really nice feeling to have been on the podium here, but I think victory was also within reach. Twice in the race I was catching Fernando. On the final stint, when I was on the hard tyre compound, my tyres had degraded quite a lot. It wasn?t easy and I went wide and touched a curb. I actually was lucky not to go off. Before that Fernando had just pitted on the perfect lap for dry tyres, just one lap before me, and I lost a bit of ground to him. It was very difficult to make the right calls today and I want to thank my team.’

Perez now sits fifth in the driver standings, 4 points ahead of back-to-back F1 champion Sebastian Vettel.

 

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