Sergio Perez already knew he had a Sauber deal for 2011 even before heading to this week's rookie tests in Abu Dhabi, so his outing was a warm-up for the Pirelli sessions and the start of his Formula 1 racing career rather than an audition for one of the remaining seats.
AUTOSPORT heard from the Mexican as he met the media at the end of his first day of work with Sauber.
Q. What was your programme today?
Sergio Perez: We did quite a lot of aero changes. We were trying to manage quite a lot of different settings in the car for me to get an understanding and a feeling with the car. I think it worked pretty well.
Q. How different was it to what you were used to? What surprised you?
SP: It takes you quite a lot to reach the limit of the car. You go out and you think 'ah, I'm going quick' - and you are four or five seconds off. Especially because I drove this track in the GP2 car and the limits are pretty different so it takes a bit of time to be up to speed.
Q. How valuable was this extra day before testing starts in earnest?
SP: I think it was very important for me to be here and have this one and a half days in the car. I can get a lot of understanding of the car and the team - especially the team because it's a lot different to what I'm used to. Also to understand how it works and why they change this and that.
Q. Did you feel the difference from the set-up changes the team made?
SP: It was quite hard for my first day to feel all of these, but I think my feedback was quite good on the changes we made. So I think it was quite alright and I have a better understanding of a Formula 1 car now.
Q. How comfortable were you in the car by the end? Did you feel you were on the limit?
SP: I think I was a lot closer to the limit. We only used one set of the option tyres in the end, but I was quite happy reaching the limits and the lap time was alright, so we're looking forward to Saturday.
Q. As one of the few drivers at this test who already has a contract, how important was it to you to be here as well?
SP: It was very important for me to get used to this world because it's very different to GP2. A lot of things and a lot of people come into your head. It was very, very important for me to do this.
Q. How much time have you spent in the factory since signing for Sauber?
SP: After I got the contract I spent one week with the team, now more or less two weeks.
Q. Have you already built up good relationships?
SP: Yeah, but in the end I don't know anybody because there are so many people and I'm very bad with names so I have to learn a lot of names!
Q. How daunting was it to visit the factory for the first time? Were you nervous?
SP: I've been to many teams in my career because I'd had some meetings with other teams before, but to actually go to a team as a [signed] driver is quite a big moment because there are so many people around. You enjoy it a lot as a driver.
Q. Were the red flags today frustrating?
SP: It affects us a quite a lot because we were on the option tyre already. We found out what the balance was, and that was it. I had to come in, then I had traffic, then the next lap was the red flag so actually we just used one set of option tyres in the end.
But at the end of the day, we already have the contract so I'm not looking for the lap time and really the most important thing for me is to understand the tyres and the team, and to get into the car. The lap time doesn't mean anything.
Q. Will you sleep tonight or is your head still buzzing?
SP: I think I can have a good sleep. I didn't sleep so well last night so I will try to sleep tonight.
Q. So were you nervous this morning?
SP: I was a bit more nervous than usual because it's your first day in Formula 1 and there are so many people around you.
Q. How is your neck feeling?
SP: It's quite hard. You feel it. I've been training very hard, but it's another step from GP2.
Q. So you need to enhance your fitness?
SP: Yeah, definitely. I think I have to work hard on the fitness side.
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