MONACO (Reuters) - McLaren reject Sergio Perez hopes his impressive third place for Force India at the Monaco Grand Prix will remind Formula One’s top teams of his talent.
The Mexican hailed Sunday’s race as one of the best of his career, while dedicating the British-based team’s fourth ever podium appearance to absent co-owner and principal Vijay Mallya.
“I had a really tough time at McLaren and it seems that this is what everyone remembers... but no one remembers my time at Sauber, my time at Force India,” he said after enjoying the podium celebrations.
“All I can do is keep doing my job, keep doing as well as I can, keep improving as a driver. I think in the last years I have improved a lot. I‘m a more complete driver in all aspects, qualifying, race pace, better experience,” he added.
“So if the opportunity ever comes (with a top team), I will be ready for it and I‘m up for it. If not, all I can keep doing is my job.”
Perez was a member of Ferrari’s academy and started out with Swiss-based Sauber in 2011, with two second places and a third in 2012 showing he was much more than just a driver bringing important sponsorship dollars to the team.
He moved to McLaren for 2013 with high hopes as replacement for Britain’s Lewis Hamilton, who had joined Mercedes, but his arrival coincided with the former world champions’ dramatic decline.
McLaren, who have not won a race since 2012, replaced the Mexican with Denmark’s Kevin Magnussen for 2014 and Perez’s future in the sport looked in doubt until Force India threw him a lifeline.
The Mexican has amply rewarded that faith, with Sunday’s podium his third for the team as well as their best ever result in Monaco.
With Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen out of contract at the end of the season, when he will be 37, there could be a vacancy at the Italian team and Perez is a former member of the ‘family’.
Sunday’s podium, making no mistakes and managing the tires to beat Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel after starting seventh, did him no harm.
“Under normal conditions we wouldn’t make it to the podium in normal pace. We don’t have the pace to do it,” the 26-year-old added.
“I felt I had Vettel under control, and it is a fantastic result. Everyone at my team deserves this one... for us it means a win.”
Editing by John O'Brien