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A very special race: Perez

New Delhi: A day after guiding Sahara Force India to a podium finish in the Bahrain Grand Prix, Mexican F1 driver Sergio Perez said it was one of the most memorable performances of his career.

It was only the second time that the Silverstone-based team finished on the podium – the other occasion being Giancarlo Fisichella’s second place at the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix.

While Perez outwitted Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo towards the end to claim the third spot, his teammate, Nico Hulkenberg also impressed by finishing fifth after starting 11th on the grid.

“This was a very special race for me… I am happy that I could fight my way back to the podium, especially after such a hard season last year. I had to do it, I had no options,” said Perez from Bahrain on Monday.

“It was the hardest race I have had to get on the podium. I had to keep the pace at the end, when I knew Red Bull was coming. It was definitely one of the best races of my career,” added the 24-year-old driver. It was Perez’s best result since the 2012 Italian GP.

In 2013, Perez joined McLaren but the team decided to replace him with Danish driver Kevin Magnussen. Perez, however, was signed by Force India for the 2014 season, for a reported deal of Euro 15 millions.

Asked what went through his mind when he had to leave McLaren and join Force India, Perez said he was looking for the right opportunity. “I am happy to get quality results here.”

The 25 points that the two Force India drivers earned on Sunday took the Silverstone-based outfit to the second position in the constructors’ standing with 44 points behind Mercedes and Perez said his aim was to keep the momentum going in the next races in Shanghai and Barcelona. In the China Grand Prix, Force India had never finished higher than eighth.

“Our team is doing very well. They have done a good job with the car.

“McLaren and Williams also have similar kind of engines… we must be doing something right. We have a smooth team, hungry for results and success… It makes me very proud,” said Perez.

The Mexican said he did not have too many complaints about the new rules and was getting used to them.

“I did say at one time that new rules were making things a bit boring, but that was because the drivers had some issues.

“But now we are getting used to it.”

Hulkenburg, who registered his third consecutive top-10 finish, is third on the drivers’ standings with 28 points behind Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.