Azerbaijan GP: Race notes - Force India


Sahara Force India returned to the podium today as Sergio Perez battled his way to an epic third place finish in an entertaining Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Esteban Ocon was taken out on lap one after being hit by Kimi Raikkonen.

Sergio Perez: "I'm extremely happy. Our race was a rollercoaster. We started with an incident on the first lap when I was hit from behind by a Williams [Sirotkin]. That pushed me into Kimi [Raikkonen] and broke my front wing so I had to pit. I was at the back and then I was given a five seconds penalty. I was able to make my way through the field and when the Safety Car came out we managed to keep our position. The team did a great pit stop and I was able to serve my penalty and still come out in front of Grosjean. I was looking after my tyres because we only had SuperSofts left and warming them up was very difficult. I was struggling and every corner was a lottery, but then I saw the cars in front of me were struggling too. I passed Seb [Vettel] but then he recovered and put pressure on me. I had to give it everything in the last two laps: my pace was unbelievable and I think they were the best two laps of my life. This podium means a lot to me, I am very pleased and proud for myself, my family, my team and Mexico."

Esteban Ocon: "It's disappointing not to finish the race on a day in which we had such good pace. I had a flying start and I managed to pass Kimi [Raikkonen]. I was ahead of him all the way to turn two and when we went into the corner. I was behind Ricciardo but Kimi made a lunge and put me in the barriers. I feel it was my corner and I was on the racing line, but he locked up and hit me. I feel the mistake was on his side: we'll see what the Stewards say but that won't change the outcome for me. It's a shame because Sergio showed we had the pace to do really well here today. I am still very pleased for the team's result and I hope we can carry our performance forward to Barcelona and beyond."

Otmar Szafnauer: "Huge congratulations to Sergio and the entire team on a fantastic podium finish in Baku. We have been quick all weekend and it's very satisfying to convert our potential into solid points. Sergio drove a remarkable race, recovering from damage on lap one to snatch the podium finish from Sebastian [Vettel] with just three laps to go. He did everything we asked of him and the strategy was spot on, even allowing us to recover from a five seconds penalty. This result is down to a tremendous team effort and feels all the more enjoyable after a difficult start to the season and some unlucky races. Of course, it was disappointing to lose Esteban on lap one when he was taken out by Raikkonen because he would surely have scored points as well. The result gives us a nice boost as we return to Europe and shows just how much progress we have made over the last month to bring performance to the car."

Check out our Sunday gallery from Baku, here.

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Published: 29/04/2018
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