RACE DEBRIEF

    Sergio Perez was delighted to take P5 on the grid for the Portuguese Grand Prix as he said Racing Point “changed the car upside down” after a middling pair of Friday sessions to maximise their qualifying performance.

    The Mexican driver managed to qualify ahead of Red Bull’s Alex Albon and put himself in the running for a fifth top-five finish of 2020. And after finishing seventh in FP1 and 12th in FP2, Perez lauded his team for turning the car around for Saturday.

    READ MORE: Hamilton beats Bottas to Portuguese GP pole with final charging run at Portimao

    “In those difficult conditions today, it was good, and I think a good performance by the team also,” he began.

    “Yesterday we were so lost; we changed the car upside down and the tyre preparation and everything. And I think we have done a pretty good job to come back and be there. I think it’s a nice position to start the race.”

    Perez pleased with P5 in Portimão after being 'lost' before qualifying

    Perez could reduce the gap to Eifel GP podium-finisher Daniel Ricciardo in the championship as the Australian is currently fourth with a ten point lead over the Mexican, who said he’s aiming to jump the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc – who will start fourth – when the race gets underway in Portugal.

    READ MORE: Ricciardo vows to make up for qualifying spin in Portuguese GP after missing out on Q3 run

    “I’m pleased getting that fifth position and I think tomorrow, if we get a good start, hopefully we can get Leclerc on Lap 1 and try to get in the mix. I think also the Mercedes and the Red Bull are probably a step ahead, so it will be key to get Leclerc as soon as possible. Anything can happen as we saw at the Nurburgring…"

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    Perez's team mate Lance Stroll qualified 10th in Portugal, while both McLarens start in the top 10 on Sunday

    Perez, often lauded as a tyre management specialist, reckons Sunday's race is going to see plenty of drivers struggling with their rubber.

    “I think it’s going to be a race of people probably getting the tyres too hot early on and having to pit early, probably. I expect a lot of drivers have been very aggressive with their reheating levels, their preparation of the tyres… I do expect quite an interesting race tomorrow.”

    The only blot on Perez's day was a reprimand given by the stewards for impeding AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly during qualifying. But after he escaped a penalty for the incident, he will no doubt be focusing now on adding another impressive result to his already solid CV as he searches for a seat for next season.

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