Sergio Perez says that 2016 is an important season for him as he tries to position himself for the following year, when some top drives might be available.
Although he says he’s happy to stay with Force India and help to build the team up, the Mexican clearly hopes that he might be in the right place to land an even better seat.
“It’s good to get some time off to reflect on what I have done, and what I can do better for next year,” he said. “I keep developing as a racing driver. I am still young, I have hopefully a long career ahead of me, and I’m facing a very important year in my career that hopefully can put me in a great position for the future.
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“It will be great if we can become a top team and suddenly we are fighting for World Championships, for victories, then it will be great place to stay. I always say that I’m very thankful for the team, for what they’ve done for me. That would be fantastically good to move up the grid, but if another opportunity comes in the future, it wouldn’t be that bad as well.”
Perez remains confident that Force India can continue to progress, and he says the team has targeted both Red Bull and Williams.
“Hopefully next year we can go even higher. It’s been the best year for the team, the best year for myself. Hopefully we can both keep developing as a team and a driver to go higher up.
“Expectations are very high. I think we are aiming to beat Red Bull and Williams. That’s going to be a big effort to do, so we’re really looking forward to being up there with them, and try to score a lot of points from the beginning. It will be very crucial that we get the new car in time, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Meanwhile, Perez said that fifth was the best he could achieve in the Abu Dhabi finale, although at one point he thought he could beat Sebastian Vettel.
“It was quite a straightforward race, basically I was doing most of the time my own race, looking after my tires, looking after the stint lengths, and so on and so on. It was not a big drama. Then when I was fourth I tried to push quite a lot to get into the window of Vettel, and I probably damaged a bit my tires then.
“And then I paid back towards the end when Ricciardo was getting closer to me. But I still had some tire left to protect against him. Still it was the maximum we could do. We tried everything to beat Vettel, which I’m proud of.”