Sauber rookie Sergio Perez says he did not plan to go through the Australian Grand Prix on just one tire stop, after making an unfancied strategy pay off to score points in his debut race.
Perez said that having to preserve his front tires through track position circumstances allowed him to finish the race on Pirelli's soft option rubber, securing himself a strong seventh place.
"It was a dream start for me, to be in the points, to have such a nice race, a good strategy and everything fine so it is a debut I will remember forever," he said. "To be honest, we never thought we could do only one stop. In the briefing we spoke about two or three stops depending on how the race was going. But then I did a very long stint on the prime. Everybody was on options which is why I lost some positions, but then I was very consistent.
"When I put the option on I thought it was going to last 10-15 laps, so I really pushed. I had Sebastian Vettel in front of me for some time – which eventually cost me the sixth position to [Jenson] Button because I lost around eight seconds. So when he was in front of me I tried to save a lot, because I was losing a lot my fronts by getting behind him, and then he pitted.
"I overtook him and then I managed the tires quite nicely, I was not going to the limit and still my pace was three or four tenths off what I could do so... I am really happy for the team.
Teammate Kamui Kobayashi, who ensured it was a double-points finish for Sauber with eighth place, said that Perez's strong performance would only motivate him to try harder, which would be good for the team.
"It's a great performance and especially in this winter we have seen a really great job from the team," he said. "I'm very happy and my teammate was strong as well in this race, which was a surprise.
"Overall I think we have done a really great job this winter and I appreciate it. Sergio had a really great performance today and I know that he is strong and he is fast. I think we are now very good teammates to be together and strong all the team, and I think that is really great.
"We still don't expect to be on the podium, but it is a good chance to be consistently in the points and this is always our target."