Pit call during safety car period paid off: Perez

Mexican Sergio Perez helped Force India clinch their first third-place finish of the season in Formula One at the Russian Grand Prix here on Sunday. This was Force India’s third podium finish. Giancarlo Fisichella and Perez had earlier finished in the first three places in 2009 and 2014, respectively.

Sergio Perez of Mexico and Force India celebrates on the podium next to the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Ferrari and Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP.   -  Getty Images

Mexican Sergio Perez helped Force India clinch their first third-place finish of the season in Formula One at the Russian Grand Prix here on Sunday.

His teammate Nico Hulkenberg, however, had a dismal day at the track as he crashed out of the race.

This was Force India’s third podium finish. Giancarlo Fisichella and Perez had earlier finished in the first three places in 2009 and 2014, respectively.

At the race on Sunday it was a very close affair. The Mexican looked like getting to the podium and at one stage was cruising to it. However, Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas overtook him before the last lap. Perez tried hard coming back but just as it looked to slip out of his hands, Raikkonen slammed his Ferrari against the tail end of Bottas’ car.

Both drivers lost control and it paved the way once again for Perez to move ahead and finish behind Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.

“It feels great to be back on the podium and to be able to celebrate with my team. I have been enjoying my time with the team so much and this is a great reward for all the work we have put in together. The call to pit under the safety car turned out to be a very good move because it gave us track position ahead of all the battles.

“With one lap to go, when Valtteri (Bottas) and Kimi (Raikkonen) passed me, it felt like this result had been taken from us: I was obviously disappointed but I also knew I had given all I could during the race. There was no more I could do because I had been on the same tyres for more than 40 laps. When I finally managed to get back into third it was just an amazing feeling. I am happy I was able to share this second podium with my team. It’s a very special result and one that fills me with expectation ahead of the races in Austin and especially Mexico City,” Perez said.

Force India, with 15 points now from the race, have consolidated their fifth spot on the constructors’ championship.