Sergio Perez believes late rain in qualifying at the United States Grand Prix cost him a chance of his first pole position.
The Mexican was on provisional pole after the first runs in Q3, beating teammate Max Verstappen by just 0.019s with his initial attempt. However, after Verstappen went even quicker with his final run to beat Lewis Hamilton into second place, Perez had to make do with third as he crossed the line last of the three drivers, with light rain falling.
“We were really close on that final lap,” Perez said. “I think we did a great job as a team. Unfortunately, my final lap at the end wasn’t as good. Throughout the lap, I improved through the first sector quite a bit and I wasn’t able to keep it progressing. I think the rain hit me a bit too hard in the final sector — there were spots of rain and I lost a bit of grip in two corners and I could just see my delta going off.
“I was the last car on track — I felt it did cost me a bit, especially (Turns) 13 and 15; mainly into 15 I just couldn’t find any grip, whether that was the increase of rain or didn’t find any grip, but there was quite a lot of rain coming in. Probably a bit of confidence going knowing it’s a bit wet, but I felt like I lost quite a bit of time there. I was quite a bit faster and just lost my lap time through there.
After losing out to Hamilton by just 0.015s, Perez insisted starting from third is not overly damaging to his hopes as he expects his strength in terms of tire preservation will be required on Sunday.
“It was pretty tense. I think I knew it was all down to the final chance, how much I was able to find. I think I was on pretty good lap, I think in Turn 1 itself I was able to find a couple of tenths. I just couldn’t keep it up completely through the lap, and needing the 100% out of the car today. Max did a fantastic job, so did Lewis; we finished where we deserved today I think.
“The qualifying position is not too relevant. I think tomorrow we’re going to have a very long race. There will be a lot of degradation on these tires, so I’m looking forward to it.”