Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Conspiracy Claim Denied; Sauber Rejects Theory of Perez Position Tactics

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Conspiracy Claim Denied; Sauber Rejects Theory of Perez Position Tactics

Article excerpt

SAUBER team boss Peter Sauber has categorically refuted claims a conspiracy was at the heart of yesterday's Malaysian Grand Prix.

The Swiss team missed out on a historic win by just 2.263secs as rising Mexican star Sergio Perez pushed Ferrari's Fernando Alonso all the way to the line at the Sepang International Circuit.

At one stage on lap 40 Perez had closed to within 1.3secs, only for the team to not follow Ferrari's lead and bring him when the conditions demanded a change from intermediate to dry tyres.

Then on lap 50 Perez made an error of his own when he ran wide at turn 14 when he was poised to pass Alonso after again cutting the gap to 0.5secs.

The theory was, as Sauber are powered by Ferrari engines and Perez remains a product of the Maranello marque's young driver academy, that the 22-year-old was called to file in behind Alonso.

Fuel has been added to the fire by the fact Perez's engineer was heard over the team radio telling him "we need the position."

Asked about the message, Sauber said: "He meant that we needed the result. It's a misunderstanding.

"It was because that behind us, all the midfield teams, our main competitors, scored points.

"So it was important we kept the result and not the position."

Pressed on whether Perez had been told to stay behind Alonso, Sauber said: "No. We told him 'be careful we need the result'."

Sauber was then quizzed on whether there had been any discussion with Ferrari, but he said: "No. 100% no. 100% nothing.

"We had no discussion about Checo (Perez) nor the position."

It took the gloss off what was a stunning drive from Perez as he achieved his finest result in F1 and Sauber's highest position since the 2008 Belgian Grand Prix when Nick Heidfeld was runner -up, and at a time when the team were heavily backed by BMW. Perez proved himself in very tough conditions as the race was suspended for 51 minutes after nine laps due to heavy rain.

In high humidity the track did not start to dry out until near the end, yet Perez managed to reel in Alonso on inters and dry tyres, only to fall short.

Extolling Perez's virtues, Sauber said: "He drove an outstanding race and rose above our expectations. …

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