Sergio Perez put in a strong performance in qualifying in Melbourne to make it through to Q3 for Racing Point. But the Mexican isn’t anticipating a repeat of that showing in Bahrain, claiming that the more conventional layout of the desert track had exposed the ‘limitations’ of the team’s RP19 car during Friday’s running.
Neither Racing Point driver troubled the top 10 during either Free Practice 1 or the Free Practice 2 session that more closely resembled the conditions the drivers will face in qualifying and the race.
Perez’s best time from FP2 was a second slower than Nico Hulkenberg’s effort to go P5 for Renault - and although the team will work on their performance overnight, Perez didn’t believe anything dramatic would have changed by the time he headed out for qualifying on Saturday.
“Not the greatest day,” was how Perez summed up his Friday. “Probably the circuit is exposing more our limitations at the moment. We seem to be further away than we were in Melbourne.
“We’re working hard. Hopefully tonight we can pick up a couple of tenths with balance and hopefully we can be a bit closer. I don’t expect us to be in Q3 tomorrow, unless like Melbourne, most of the teams get it wrong and then we can be there.
“It’s looking a hard weekend, but we will try our best to see if we can score any possible points.”
Perez finished 14th across both of FP1 and FP2 – although his running was limited in the second session by an issue with his front-right brake. But it was an even tougher day for his team mate, with Lance Stroll ending up P18 and P17 across the two sessions, the Canadian spinning into the wall in FP1 before having work done on the floor of his car in FP2. And Stroll was left in no doubt that the team needed to find some pace if they were to mix it in the ‘very competitive’ midfield.
“We’ll see what we can do overnight,” said Stroll. “We need some speed, no doubt. It’s tricky at the moment to get into the top 10, that’s for sure, looking at the time sheets.
“It’s very competitive in that midfield so we’ll look for some speed tonight and try and come back better tomorrow.”