Sergio Perez was left lamenting a strategy call to pit under a Safety Car period at the Singapore Grand Prix, which he feels cost Force India a potential podium finish.
Fresh from signing a new deal that will see him continue to race at the Silverstone-based outfit in 2018, Perez avoided the mayhem at Turn 1 to move within touching distance of the podium positions as he ran inside the top five following the first Safety Car interval. A second Safety Car was deployed when Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat crashed out of the race on Lap 11, which in turn triggered a number of pit stops, including at Force India, as the team decided to pit Perez for a set of fresh intermediate tyres.
Although Perez was frustrated by the decision to give up his strong track position, he was ultimately pleased to finish fifth -- a result which has seen the Mexican move level on points with Red Bull's Max Verstappen in joint-sixth place in the drivers' championship.
"I'm a little disappointed that we missed out on a podium because I think the second Safety Car period didn't help our strategy," Perez said. "We started the race on the full wet tyre, but we had to switch early to the intermediate tyres under the Safety Car and I lost valuable track position.
"At the same time I'm really pleased to come away from such a challenging evening with fifth place. So many things happened during the race, especially on lap one when it was so difficult to see anything because of the spray.
"It is still a great day and a good recovery after a difficult qualifying session yesterday. This result helps our fourth position in the championship and continues my record of always scoring points in Singapore."
After starring in a wet-weather qualifying session at the Italian Grand Prix, Esteban Ocon, who stretched his latest points scoring run to eight races by finishing 10th, was at a loss for why he struggled for pace in the tricky conditions during the early stages of the race.
"I made a very good start, but I struggled on both the wet tyres and the intermediates," Ocon said. "This wasn't the case in Monza, where I was much more comfortable in the rain, but something wasn't working and I don't know why. This dragged me behind some slower cars.
"After the track had dried, I had good pace but I just couldn't overtake the cars I was chasing. It's just very difficult to find an overtaking opportunity here. It's good to rescue a point in the end, but we wanted much more than that. We have to analyse what went wrong and come back stronger in Malaysia."