Sergio Perez admitted he hasn’t been able to get on terms with team mate’s Max Verstappen’s pace at Suzuka this weekend.
“I think definitely P2, front row, was on the cards today,” he admitted afterwards, saying he had been left at a disadvantage by only having one new set of soft tyres for Q3.
“Just missing that second set in Q2, when he used an extra set was not ideal and that put us on the back foot to the McLaren mainly by just having a one set of new tyres. That was not ideal.”
Perez admitted he hadn’t been on Verstappen’s pace throughout much of the weekend. “It was hard,” he told the official F1 website. “We did struggle through the weekend.
“We kind of were always two steps behind and we just couldn’t get the entry stability I was looking to get over a single lap.
“But come race day I think we are looking a lot better. I think that tomorrow is going to be such a degradation tyre battle that hopefully tomorrow we can still be able to do a one-two.”
In qualifying Perez lost over four tenths of a second to Verstappen in the first sector alone, which is largely comprised of high-speed corners. Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said Verstappen had kept raising the bar in the quickest corners on the Suzuka circuit.
“He’s slightly under the car compared to Max in those high-speed turns,” Horner told Sky. “He’s closed the gap in high-speed turns but Max keeps moving it. But P5 for Checo, I think he’ll have strong race pace, we saw that yesterday so I think he’ll be okay in the race.”
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