Sergio Perez has put his failure to make it into the final segment of qualifying for his first grand prix with Red Bull down to his inexperience with the car.
Red Bull put both their drivers on the medium tyre compound in Q2, in order to gain a strategic advantage from starting the race on more durable rubber. Perez believes this was the right way to go, despite failing to make the cut for the top 10.
“I was really confident that I had the pace and just putting the lap together will get me through but I didn’t put it together,” Perez said after qualifying 11th. “So I think that was the right plan for the team, to try to go through on the medium, but I just didn’t put the lap together.”
Perez’s situation was complicated by the fact his first lap time on medium tyres was deleted because of a track limits infringement at turn four.
His team mate Max Verstappen reached Q3 on mediums, as did both Mercedes drivers. Perez said conditions at the track have made it hard to cover useful running in the car.
“It’s been a difficult weekend overall, getting up to speed with the really tough winds, and it’s a one-lap tyre around here,” he explained. “You can not really do more than one lap.
“It’s been a bit tricky to get up to speed. I think we made a good progress throughout qualifying. We had a little issue with the car in third practice that put us off a bit going into qualifying. But I think every kilometre that I’m doing with the car, it’s helping me to understand a lot. I’m happy with the progress I did with the car understanding going into qualifying.
“I just have to be patient with myself, put the work on and initially use some area of time. I’m not concerned at all.”
Perez said he’s “optimistic” the race will go better for him. “I think the long run is up there, that should be good pace tomorrow.”
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