‘Every time I stop I can hear them’ – Home hero Perez targeting pole position in front of ecstatic Mexican crowd
Sergio Perez is targeting nothing less than a home pole position in Saturday’s qualifying session for the Mexico City Grand Prix, after showing decent pace in the opening pair of practice sessions at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
Perez, who hasn’t competed in front of his home crowd since 2019, suffered an inauspicious start to the weekend in Free Practice 1 when he spun his Red Bull RB16B into the wall at Turn 16, costing himself 25 minutes of track time as the team effected repairs on the car.
But he overcame that wobble to take P4 in both of Friday’s sessions – while reckoning that his FP1 shunt hadn’t put him overly onto the back foot.
“I think we didn’t lose as much going into the [FP2] session,” said Perez. “It was a shame that we damaged the car and gave a bit of extra work to the boys. But other than that it was a positive day.
“I’m feeling more comfortable in the long run than over the one lap,” he added. “So I think there is potential to improve the car over one lap. The margins are going to be very close tomorrow with the Mercs, so hopefully we’re able to lock out that front row.”
FP2 saw team mate Max Verstappen claim the fastest time, trailed by the two Mercedes – both over four-tenths adrift – with Perez then 0.570s off the Dutchman’s pace. But Perez was nonetheless aiming to claim his first ever career pole on Saturday, as he praised his ecstatic home crowd.
“[Pole] will be my target,” said Perez. “It’s great to have so much support. To look at everyone here being so enthusiastic and pushing me hard – every time I bring the car to a stop, I can hear them and it’s only Friday, so very grateful for the support.”
Perez was circumspect on Thursday, meanwhile, when asked whether he’d give up a home win to Verstappen if he was leading Sunday’s race, with Perez telling the media: “I think it will be a great problem to have… I think that depending on the circumstances, we'll see.”