• Bahrain Grand Prix - Qualifying

Podium is there for the taking - Perez

ESPN Staff
April 5, 2014 « Sutil handed five-place penalty for Grosjean incident | Engine issue hampers Alonso »
Sergio Perez is very well placed for Sunday's race © Sutton Images

Sergio Perez is convinced he can take Force India's first podium finish since 2009 after qualifying fourth in Bahrain.

Perez lines up fourth alongside Valtteri Bottas courtesy of Daniel Ricciardo's 10-place grid penalty, by far his best return of the year as Force India continued to build on its impressive showing in both afternoon and evening practice sessions so far in Bahrain. Perez does not believe anyone can catch the Mercedes tomorrow but has his sights firmly set on joining its drivers on the podium.

"I don't think we can beat them unless they have a problem," Perez said. "I think our target is to try and get the podium, I think we are in a very good position. I think this track is good for us and we should be strong. It's really encouraging. We are in a good position for tomorrow so hopefully we can make the most out of it.

The Mercedes-powered cars dominated in qualifying and Perez believes Force India's pace shows they are catching the non-factory teams in the aerodynamic race.

"I think we showed the engine is definitely good and this track gave us good advantage on that, but we beat the two McLarens and one Williams and were very close to the other one. We are not Mercedes yet but I think we are doing a good job with the car. There's a big room to improve the car so hopefully we can keep doing that into China and Barcelona."

Perez has been able to enjoy far more running over this weekend after running into problems in Australia and Malaysia, and he has no doubts that helped his cause in qualifying.

"I think it's a lot easier [with problem-free practice sessions]. You have information and go into the race knowing what you have to do, how hard you have to drive. That makes things a lot easier. You go into qualifying with confidence, you don't have issues with the brake system and stuff like that. In that respect I think the first weekend without any issues was a great one and hopefully tomorrow we can do the same in Malaysia."

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