Sergio Perez looking forward to Abu Dhabi Grand Prix fight after sterling qualifying effort

Force India driver Sergio Perez snagged fourth position on Saturday for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with a racing masterclass and revealed his ambition for Sunday.

Force India driver Sergio Perez shown in the paddock on Saturday before the third practice at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Tom Gandolfini / AFP / November 28, 2015
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ABU DHABI // Sergio Perez acknowledged that he and Force India had overachieved after he qualified fourth for today's Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but said he will fight hard to maintain that position in the 55-lap race.

The Mexican will start the race ahead of both Red Bull Racing cars, both Williams and the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel, which is something of a surprise given Force India are only fifth in the constructors’ championship. Perez said he hoped to be able to keep his rivals behind him and slugging it out with the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, who starts third, for a place on the podium, with the Mercedes-GP cars of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton expected to dominate.

“Tomorrow will be a challenge to keep this position but I am really looking forward to it and fighting with Kimi,” he said.

Perez is ninth in the championship, but is 16 points clear of teammate Nico Hulkenberg, and added he would give it his all in his bid today to finish on the podium for the second time in five races.

“I have nothing to lose,” he said. “I think my championship position is pretty much safe from behind so I am just looking ahead.

“We have very quick cars behind us so it will be interesting to see what we can do.”

It was Perez’s best qualifying performance of the year, and he said he had been pleased with how he had been driving all weekend, not just yesterday evening.

“Yes, it was a really very good qualifying,” he said. “Not just the last lap, all the way through I was feeling comfortable with the car and able to exploit the maximum out of it.”

The signs this would be a strong weekend for Perez came on Friday when he was third-quickest in practice, beaten only by Rosberg and Hamilton.

He said that a tough weekend in Sao Paulo two weeks ago, when he finished down in 12th, had helped point the team in the right direction for preparation at Yas Marina Circuit.

“This track suits the car,” he added. “We had a very poor weekend in Sao Paulo and we learnt from it and that has made a good difference to this weekend.

“We have found a good rhythm with the car and I am just feeling very comfortable.”

Hulkenberg completed a good day for Force India by qualifying seventh, but was frustrated to be three places behind his teammate.

“I was pretty happy with my laps, especially the one in Q3, so to find myself in seventh actually feels a little bit disappointing,” the German said.

“We need to look at the data and figure out where we lost time and what we can do to recover it.”

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