Felipe Massa has made it clear that he is still upset with Sergio Perez after their controversial last lap crash in Montreal.
Massa insists that Perez was totally at fault for the clash, which will be examined by the stewards tomorrow, at the request of Force India (see separate story).
“The rules says when somebody moves the car behind and put the front wing on the side of your rear tyres you cannot move any more,” said Massa. “So he didn’t follow that. I will not change my opinion. What I just said, this is the rule. And it’s coming from the FIA. And if you know the history, most of the time it’s always the young drivers, especially him, who cause these problems, cause these accidents, which is dangerous.
“If I made a mistake I will be the first one to say I made a mistake, I’m sorry, like I always did when I made a mistake. But people don’t think in the same way. So I’m sorry for him, and I hope he learns, otherwise he will pay more penalties in the future.”
Asked what he would do next time he tries to pass Perez Massa said: “I will think twice. I [have to] believe that he will not move his car. And you cannot believe, when somebody is paying so many penalties, and causing so many problems, you cannot believe. I will not trust him any more, definitely, in the car.”
Sergio Perez could be a dark horse in Bahrain on Sunday, and he might be the man ready to take advantage should Mercedes hit any problems.
The Mexican qualified fifth, and gained a place from the Ricciardo penalty. While Valtteri Bottas is ahead on the grid, Force India looked particularly strong over race runs. In Malaysia Nico Hulkenberg was able to finish fifth having made only two stops, proving that the car is good on tyres.
“I don’t think we can beat them by any strategy or anything,” he said of Mercedes when asked by this writer. “So the only chance is that they have a problem, and then we can dream with a victory. Our target is to get a podium, and be in a good position.
“I want to get a clean start and hopefully get Bottas off the line, and then just manage our race, our degradation, and do whatever we have to do for the race.
“It’s close between a two-stop and a three-stop, and it will be a race where it will be interesting to see how much degradation is a factor, and how well we can manage it.”
Peerz says the key so far this weekend has been avoiding trouble: “We got a rhythm on Friday. It’s the first weekend when we could really do good work without any problems. I’m confident for the race, and I think we can have a good one.”
Sergio Perez has finally been officially confirmed as Nico Hulkenberg’s new team mate at Force India.
The Mexican began talking to the team soon after he was dropped by McLaren, whose boss Martin Whitmarsh also tried to persuade the Silverstone outfit to take his departing driver.
His longtime mentor Carlos Slim personally intervened to help Perez land the drive.
“He brings a healthy mix of youth and experience, and I’ve been very impressed with his recent performances,” said Dr Vijay Mallya. “He already has several podium finishes to his name and being chosen by McLaren last year was a clear indication that he is a driver to watch for the future. We also recognise Sergio’s incredible talent and we are proud to have him in our team. He clearly has great speed and plenty of fire in his belly. Our job is to make sure he settles in quickly by creating the right atmosphere so that he can realise his potential. By pairing Sergio alongside Nico, we enter the new season with an extremely competitive line-up, which will go toward helping us achieve our goals for the new season.”
“Coming here was always my first choice and I’m really happy everything has now been confirmed,” said Perez. “I want to say thank you to Vijay and the whole team for giving me the opportunity. This is a young team with a lot of determination and they’ve produced competitive cars for the last few years. It’s all change for next season with the new regulations, but I already have a good feeling about 2014. My plan now is to visit the factory and get to know everyone in the team.”
The news means that Adrian Sutil, who had an ongoing contract with Force India, is currently without a drive. However he remains close to Sauber, with whom he has been in close contact for some weeks.
Meanwhile Paul Di Resta has known for some months that he has been out of a job.