Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez was left disappointed following Saturday’s qualifying session for the Mexican Grand Prix, his home race.
The Sahara Force India driver just missed out on a place in the top ten shootout and will start today’s race from 12th place on the grid just behind McLaren Honda’s Fernando Alonso. Speaking after setting a qualifying time of 01:20.287s, Perez commented by saying:
It’s a shame to miss out on Q3 today, but I’m optimistic we can recover some positions in the race with a strong strategy. In Q2 we went out on the soft tyres to see if we could progress to Q3, but for my second run we switched to the supersoft tyres. Unfortunately I made a small mistake on my final lap, which ended my chance of qualifying inside the top ten. I just locked up the front tyres going into turn one and ran wide. I apologise for the mistake, but I hope I can give all my fans some happiness in the race tomorrow. The good news is that we made some progress with the car in between final practice and qualifying: our race pace looks competitive and I think we can come away with a good result tomorrow.
While Perez struggled in qualifying his team mate Nico Hulkenberg did a fantastic job. The German will start the race from fifth place on the grid ahead of the Ferrari duo of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel and has done Force India’s chances of staying ahead of Williams Martini Racing in the battle for fourth place the world of good.
Speaking after setting a qualifying time of 01:19.330s, Hulkenberg commented by saying:
It’s been a very good qualifying session for me and I am very happy with the result. Our car works pretty well on every circuit nowadays, but I felt it just got better and better through qualifying as the track improved. My first lap in Q3 was mega, possibly my best qualifying lap of the season, and I don’t think there was anything more I could extract from it. We need to keep ourselves out of trouble at the start but I won’t let what happened last week influence me: every time you get to turn one, there is a unique dynamic and you just have to play it by ear. We have a good idea of where we are for the race and we’ll get our head down and build on today’s result.
The battle for fourth place in the championship is on a knife edge and speaking following qualifying, Force India’s deputy team principal Robert Fernley commented by saying:
Overall a satisfying qualifying session for us. Nico has been competitive all weekend and qualifying in fifth place is a fantastic effort – ahead of both Ferraris. Sergio also showed good speed today and made real progress with the car this morning. Had it not been for a small mistake in Q2 he would have joined Nico in the top ten. Starting from P12 will open up some interesting choices in terms of strategy and we are confident he can make progress in the race. It’s a huge weekend for us with great support from our Mexican partners and fan base, and we will do all we can to give everybody something to celebrate on Sunday evening.