The Sepang circuit delivered as promised – unpredictable weather stole the show today. Sergio Perez, a member of Ferrari’s young driver academy started ninth on the grid and was one of the two drivers of the pack who changed tyres from intermediate to rain tyres after the very first lap. With the rain becoming too heavy, the race was interrupted for 51 minutes after nine laps. Thanks to the team’s strategy, Sergio was third on the grid for the restart. Sergio Perez drove the Sauber C31-Ferrari at the limit and stayed on Alonso’s tail to finally finish second, a podium that might very well solidify the rumours of Perez replacing Massa.
Sergio Perez started on intermediate tyres, after 1 lap changed to rain tyres, restarted on new rain tyres, again after 15 laps switched to intermediates and finally after 41 laps switched to hard dry tyres.
Sergio Perez :
“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 (Alonso). 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. They always called me in at the right time, the first stop after lap one was especially important and it was also good to take the hard compound in the end, as the medium compound was not working too well for us. It is only our second race in 2012 and I think we have a great season ahead of us. I knew we had potential to fight today, our car is not far away from the top cars and a good crew and a driver can also make a difference in such conditions.”
Peter Sauber, Team Principal:
“What a great result! Sergio drove an outstanding race and rose above our expectations. What surprised me most was the fact that he was very competitive in all conditions and with all tyres. Whether they were wet, intermediate or dry tyres he was always one of the fastest drivers on track if not the fastest. This obviously also shows the huge potential of the car. And I want to pay a big compliment to Giampaolo Dall’Ara and his team for doing a great job with the strategy. Thanks also to everybody in the factory in Hinwil. I’m sorry for Kamui who had to stop due to a technical problem. Nevertheless it was a great and important day for the team.”
Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Head of Track Engineering:
“It was a very strong race for our team. We made a good call on the weather conditions, and then Sergio took over. He drove a brilliant race. His pace was excellent on a wet and dry track. For Kamui it was an unlucky race. First we should have called him in earlier, but there was a chance of rain. This judgment was wrong. Secondly he had a leak in the brake system which stopped him, and we are sorry for that. We have to investigate it. However, it was a great performance and a great result for the team.”