Perez and his engineers dug deep in the sim running as they tried to get him back to the sort of pace he showed earlier in the season after a run of frustrating weekends.
The sprint race format at COTA made it hard to fully judge the results, as like all drivers Perez was committed to his set-up after FP1.
He moved forward in both races, rising from seventh on the sprint grid to fifth at the flag, and going from ninth to fifth in Sunday’s grand prix, before being handed an extra place by Lewis Hamilton’s exclusion.
He’s expecting to take further steps in front of his home crowd in Mexico City this weekend.
“I think we’ve shown at times really good pace,” he said when asked by Motorsport.com about his race.
“I think just my pace on the hard tyre was not good enough to make more progress. So something that we’ve got to look at. We know we compromise quite a bit of our balance for the weekend, given that it was only one practice.
“And this is what happens on the sprint events, you either go wrong direction or right direction, but I do expect to be a lot better.”
Regarding the benefits of the sim running, he said: “Yes, I think we made some very good progress. Especially considering how much we compromised the car.
“We believe that we left a lot of performance in the car. Hopefully, we are able to prove that come Mexico next weekend.”
He added: “It’s good just to do a full race distance and understand there is for a lot more potential coming up.”
Asked if he was benefiting from specific set-up changes or a general change of approach to the weekend, he admitted that it was a combination.
“It’s a bit of both,” he said. “I think we were so lost that I think we were having some difficulties with our preparation on the simulator to what we were experiencing on track, and just on track taking the wrong directions, and then end up compromising massively our weekend.
“So I think we needed to step back a bit and start all over again.”
Regarding his home race, he said: “I think we didn’t get to show our full pace this weekend. So I really believe that we should be a lot stronger than what we were today [Sunday[.”
Perez admitted that it won’t be easy to hold on to second place in the world championship against Hamilton, despite the gap between the two increasing to 39 points following the Mercedes driver’s disqualification at Austin.
“I’m just giving my best, and we’ll see where we end up,” he said. “I need to make sure that we are able to improve and step up a gear.
“They keep improving the car, and we can see that they’re getting stronger and stronger every race. So it will be a good fight, which will be great for the next four races.”