Tuesday September 11, 2012
Perez upstages favourites at Monza amid talk of move to Ferrari
MONZA (Italy): Sergio Perez managed to upstage both Ferrari drivers at the team’s home race, and he’s hoping that hasn’t worsened his chances of joining the Italian outfit next season.
Perez moved his way up from 12th on the grid to finish second in his Sauber at the Italian Grand Prix, passing both Felipe Massa and championship leader Fernando Alonso on the way and preventing Ferrari from putting two cars on the podium.
Alonso was third behind winner Lewis Hamilton, while Massa finished fourth.
Speculation is rife that Perez - who is a member of Ferrari’s academy scheme - will join the Italian scuderia for 2013, and he’s hoping team officials won’t carry a grudge.
“I’m fighting for my team and will always fight for the team that I’m in,” Perez said. “I will always give my maximum I can.
“And I will fight any driver, no matter if it’s Fernando or Lewis (Hamilton), I will fight for my team to get the result - and I think every driver will do the same.”
Massa, whose contract expires at the end of the year, has had a disappointing season, but put in a strong performance throughout the weekend at Ferrari’s home track.
“I don’t know if this race changes anything regarding my future,” Massa said.
“Definitely the most important thing for now is to keep going like this, working with great concentration for next year and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Ferrari technical director Pat Fry says there should be alarm bells ringing after the team were dogged by technical problems all weekend at the Italian Grand Prix.
On Friday, Alonso endured a suspected engine failure in the first practice and a brake problem and gearbox failure during the afternoon session. More technical issues on Saturday saw the championship leader qualify a disappointing 10th.
Problems continued during the race as garage equipment failed, leaving the team without television pictures on the pit wall and a link to the remote garage at Maranello.
“It was rather like taking a step back in time,” Fry said.
“At one point we had to make do with the telephone to speak to Maranello and decide if it was the right time for the pit stop. We were able to manage the situation but believe me, it was not a walk in the park.
“We managed to recover almost completely from the situation we were in after yesterday’s problems, but looking at the weekend as a whole, I have to say what happened over these days should ring some alarm bells for all of us.”
Massa blamed tyre degradation for his failure to secure a first podium finish of the season at the Italian Grand Prix.
Massa, enjoyed his most competitive race of the year. The Brazilian was second for most of the race, before being overtaken by Sergio Perez and allowing Alonso through on team orders.
“I’m pleased with the result, even though I was hoping to make it to the podium,” Alonso said. “We faced massive tyre degradation, higher than we expected, it was really amazing ... very different to what we had seen on Friday in free practice.
“It’s a shame because while the tyres were still working.
“I could match the pace of the McLarens, but then I began to lose the rear end earlier than they did.
“It was not an easy race towards the end. Perez came back at me very strongly and there was nothing I could do to fend him off.”
Lewis Hamilton finally got a win at Monza, and said his love of Italy made the win extra special.
The McLaren driver put an Italian flag on his helmet and it seemed to bring him luck as he cruised to a first victory at the historic Monza circuit.
“It’s an incredible experience for me to come to Italy, a place that I love a lot,” Hamilton said.
“I’ve come here for many, many years, since I was 13, met lots of great people here, really do genuinely love the people here and the culture and the food and the country itself.” — AFP