'Super disappointed' Perez says top three was on the cards after qualifying ninth for Sao Paulo Sprint
It was a frustrating qualifying session for Red Bull at Interlagos, as while Max Verstappen made a mistake in Q3 that cost him pole, Sergio Perez was left “super disappointed” after traffic hindered his hopes of a top-three finish.
With rain in the air, the drivers were quick to come out onto the track in Q3 as they looked to make the best of the conditions. However, on his flying lap, Perez, on the soft tyre, was stuck behind Charles Leclerc, on the intermediate.
This meant the Mexican could only post a time of 1m 15.601s, 3.9s off pole-sitter Kevin Magnussen’s time – with George Russell's spin into the gravel, which brought out the red flags and rain curtailing the rest of the session, leaving Perez down in ninth.
“It was a… misfortune there. I don’t know what Leclerc and Ferrari were doing. It was very clear that he was too slow on the inters on the out-lap and I thought he was going to box,” said Perez.
“It was quite obvious to me that he was going to box and get on to the slick tyres but then he just stayed in front, and I did my lap just behind him and unfortunately that meant I just lost too much [time]… We will try hard tomorrow to try recover and try to get into the points.”
Speaking about whether he could have got pole if he'd had clear air, Perez said: “You will never know but I think certainly I could have been a lot higher. Top three should have been possible today. But unfortunately, we are starting P9. Super disappointed with today’s result.”
Team mate Verstappen qualified in second place, and while he was satisfied with his and his Red Bull team’s performance on Friday, he says a mistake on his lap in Q3 cost him a chance at pole.
“It was pretty tricky conditions, you just had to stay on track to do your laps at the right time,” said Verstappen. “I think at the end of the day, we did that in Q1, Q2, it’s just Q3 we knew that it was going to be that first lap and I went to Turn 8, and I locked up a bit. Just difficult out there but still on the front row and that is what is important.”
When asked whether he would be more aggressive in the Sprint on Saturday, Verstappen said: “I will always try to have fun, but I think the approach should always be the same. But let’s see how competitive we are going to be tomorrow in the [Sprint]. But also, the weather, I have no clue what is going to happen, but that makes Interlagos special for everyone.”