Perez laments spin on final qualifying lap as provisional pole slips through his fingers
For much of a wet qualifying session in Turkey Max Verstappen looked set for pole position. Then Sergio Perez entered the picture and sat on provisional pole for most of Q3, meaning an eventual third place – with his team mate taking pole – was, in the end, a disappointment for the Mexican.
Perez benefitted from starting the session on the intermediate tyre and getting temperature into the rubber instantly, allowing him to go quicker than Verstappen early in the session.
That forced Red Bull’s hand as Verstappen also switched to intermediates but couldn’t make that compound work so well, leaving Perez fastest until the final lap where Racing Point team mate Lance Stroll jumped him for pole and Verstappen improved to second as a golden opportunity slipped away.
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“In the end we were just unlucky, my final lap when the track was at its best I had [Antonio] Giovinazzi in front and he simply didn’t move out of the way and then I lost my lap,” Perez said.
“My final lap was going really well, a very strong first sector, but I got caught out with Giovinazzi and that was it really. I tried to overtake him but I just simply lost the rear end into Turn 7, spun out and there was nothing more I could do.
“The call was good in the beginning to stay on the inter - I think the inter worked really well for us - but I think just the timing there at the end with the track getting a lot better in the final stages kept us from pole. But on the other hand it’s a great result for the team and hopefully tomorrow we can make it into a lot of points for us.”
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Despite his disappointment, there is a silver lining for Perez, who secured the first top-three qualifying performance of his career. After grip conditions have been extremely low all weekend, starting on the cleaner side of the grid - the odd-numbered grid slots - could prove an advantage.
“Obviously track position was key today as well to be able to maintain your temperature on the tyres. But yeah I think we are in a great position; I definitely prefer P3 than P2, I think tomorrow at the start that will be a good difference.”
The incident with Giovinazzi could end up having greater repercussions for both Perez and Stroll, with Stroll summoned to the stewards for allegedly ignoring the single waved yellow after his team mate went off at Turn 7. A penalty could see the Canadian lose pole position and promote Perez to the side of the grid with even less grip.