Lining up fourth, Perez jumped to second at La Source and nearly overtook polesitter Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton on the first run towards Les Combes. But while the VJM08 remained very quick through the first sector, the 25-year-old gradually slipped out of top-three contention.
“Fifth place and ten points is a good result, but we just lacked the pace to really fight for the podium today,” said Perez. “My start was very strong and I was close to taking the lead on lap one when I was alongside Hamilton after Eau Rouge.
“I settled into a good rhythm, but we had very high degradation on the soft tyres in the first two stints. It was a bit better on the medium, although we struggled in the middle sector with our low downforce set-up and that hurt my pace.
“We were racing some quick cars and it was hard to fight off Grosjean and Kvyat, so it’s clear we need to analyse our performance and see where we can improve.”
Meanwhile, team-mate Nico Hulkenberg could not capitalise on Force India’s strong form, as the reigning Le Mans 24 Hours champion forced the entire field to go through a second starting procedure.
“It’s disappointing to finish your race before it’s even started, but sometimes these things happen in racing,” he said.
“On the way to the grid I just felt a loss of power. We tried to understand and fix the problem on the grid, but it came back during the formation lap. There were a few moments when the power returned, but it disappeared again just before the start and I had to retire.
“It’s a real shame because the car has been very quick this weekend and we had a good opportunity to score some important points.”
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