Perez believes Red Bull are in a 'good position' for the weekend despite compromised first day in Mexico
Home favourite Sergio Perez admitted he endured a less than ideal first day of running at the Mexico City Grand Prix, although he still believes the potential is there for him and his Red Bull team to have a successful weekend.
Perez, who was greeted by cheers throughout the day from the fans in the stands, started the day by setting the third quickest time in the opening practice hour – albeit ending up nearly three-tenths adrift of Max Verstappen's pace-setting time.
He followed that up by placing fifth on the timesheets in FP2 after the qualifying simulation runs on the soft tyre. He was once again three-tenths off Verstappen’s pace-setting time, although Perez later explained why that was the case.
Asked how his Friday in front of his fans in Mexico went, Perez said: “It’s nice. It’s funny when you are in the car you forget where you are but as soon as you are out, there is a lot of attention. It’s good to have so much support from all the fans.
“We didn’t have a straightforward day; we get a good read of the softs over a single lap. I had a yellow flag on my lap, so I ended up doing it on the second time lap, and not very straightforward.
“Plenty of things to understand, we obviously went with different compounds also to understand them for Sunday. I think overall we are looking in a good position. I think we have a good direction that we need to take.”
Perez has not scored a pole position since the Miami GP back in May. When asked if he was optimistic of doing so this weekend, he replied: “Yeah definitely.
“I mean my lap wasn’t really tidy. [I] nearly went off in the final corner, so I think there is good potential. Things are looking good, but as we know tomorrow is going to be really tight.”
Verstappen, on the other hand, had a relatively smooth day out in Mexico – where he has won a record four times. The three-time world champion still believes they have things to work on overnight, even though the day had gone better than expected.
“I mean of course we look competitive so that’s good, but there are always a few things to still improve,” said Verstappen. “But overall, I think it was a positive start to the weekend, probably a little bit better than I expected.
“But you can see the track is very slippery, tyres are very difficult to manage as well in the long run, so there are still a few things that I think we can work on.”
Verstappen’s nearest challenger after the qualifying runs in FP2 came from the McLaren of Lando Norris, who was just 0.119s adrift in second.
Asked if Norris being that close surprises him, Verstappen replied: “I mean they have been close already for a few races now, so for me there is no surprise there. Tomorrow is going to be incredibly competitive over one lap. The race pace again is different story.”