Sergio Perez said his mis-timed final run cost him a few tenths of a second, which could have been enough to put him on pole position.
That meant he was unable to benefit from the slipstream of another driver, which can be worth a significant amount of lap time on the long straights of Baku City Circuit. Charles Leclerc beat Perez to pole position by less than three tenths of a second.
“It was not an ideal qualifying because at the end we just had a problem with the engine, we couldn’t turn it on,” said Perez. “That meant I was basically on my own and that’s very powerful around here.
“Who knows if it was enough for pole but certainly we lost a few tenths. I think Charles has done a very good lap.”
He admitted his first run in Q3 had been slightly scruffy. “When it gets to Q3, run one is when you go balls-out and it was a little bit too much,” he said. “I hit the wall a couple of times. Luckily we managed to survive, which was the key, really, here.”
Perez out-qualified his team mate Max Verstappen for the second race running, relegating him to the second row of the grid. Verstappen has been unhappy with his car’s front-end grip throughout much of the weekend.
“I think the start of the lap was good, then it went away from me a little,” said Verstappen. “Tiny mistakes, so not ideal.
“In general I was just struggling a bit to find front-to-rear balance over one lap. So not, of course, what I want but still I think as a team, second and third we have a good opportunity for tomorrow.”
However Verstappen is hopeful his car’s pace over a race stint will be more competitive. “Overall we seemed to lack maybe a little bit over one lap but I think in the long run normally our car should be quite good.”
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