• Austrian GP - Race

Perez laments costly grid penalty

ESPN Staff
June 22, 2014 « Timing of maiden podium perfect for Bottas | 'Impossible' to challenge Mercedes this year - Alonso »
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Sergio Perez believes he could have had a shot at a podium finish in Austria were it not for the decision to uphold his five-place grid penalty from the Canadian Grand Prix.

Coming into the weekend Perez had hoped "new evidence" would see the penalty rescinded following his last-lap collision with Felipe Massa in Montreal, but after qualifying 11th he was moved back to 16th on the grid. Perez managed to stretch out his first stint on the soft tyre over 30 laps, during which time he briefly led the race, which he feels if proof he could have challenged Valtteri Bottas and Massa for third and fourth.

"Once again we showed that we have the pace to go into the podium, to fight for a podium," Perez said. "It's very unfortunate about the penalty. To come back from 16th to sixth shows how strong we were and how good the pace was in certain areas of the race. The start was really good on the prime, I managed to get some good positions. There was really good pace and that meant we were going to score good points for the team.

"We showed once more that we can manage the tyres well, and we had a very strong race pace, as we have had all year. It was nice to be in the lead for a while, although we obviously knew that the cars behind us were on a different strategy."

Perez had a wonderful start off the line, which included getting past former McLaren team-mate Jenson Button, something he insists was a defining moment in his race.

"I had a good start, I positioned myself well for Turn 1. I had to be in the right place at the right moment. I think Jenson ran wide, it was very important for me to overtake Jenson because he was on a similar strategy to me, that was one of the keys to the race."

Force India's gap to Williams is now just two points, which Perez says will serve as great motivation to kick on and make up for lost ground.

"Now the Williams did a podium so we know we need to improve our car, but it's a great improvement from where we are."

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