Sergio Perez wants to be back on the podium at some stage in 2018 after missing out for the first time in four years last season.
Having joined Force India at the start of 2014, Perez finished on the podium at least once in each of his first three seasons before that run came to an end last year. Despite 2017 seeing Perez score points in all but three races and help Force India comfortably retain fourth place in the constructors’ championship, the Mexican is targeting another top-three performance during the upcoming season, which gets underway on Sunday with the Australian Grand Prix.
“You always arrive in Melbourne full of hope,” Perez said. “There are lots of unanswered questions and it’s when you really start to understand your competitiveness. At the same time, it’s not a typical race because it’s usually quite unpredictable. Often, just finishing the race is the key to getting a good result.
“I feel in good shape and ready for the season to start. I want this to be my best year in Formula 1 and I want to be back on the podium. During testing we saw that all the midfield teams are quite close together in terms of performance. I also think the gap to the front of the grid is smaller. Let’s see what happens.”
While Perez has an overall goal for the season, teammate Esteban Ocon believes a points finish has to be Force India’s main objective in Melbourne this weekend.
“It has been a long winter with a two-month training camp for me in the Pyrenees, but hopefully all the hard work will pay off now the racing is starting,” Ocon said. “I can honestly say I’m in the best shape of my life. I feel ready to go racing again. Testing is one thing, but now we will get the real answers in terms of our performance.
“I’d like to think we can fight for points in Melbourne. We had a really solid second week of testing in Barcelona. I feel comfortable in the car and it’s very consistent. We have new parts coming for the race so hopefully that’s another performance step.”