Sergio Perez says he wouldn’t be able to improve on his first pole position lap if he had 1,000 further attempts after his milestone qualifying result at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
The Mexican pipped Charles Leclerc in qualifying with a stunning final lap, edging out the early championship leader by 0.025s to secure the first pole position of his career at the 215th attempt. Coming at a challenging street circuit, Perez says the result is one that gives him the confidence to replicate it at any track on the calendar.
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“First of all, I have to say well done to the whole team. It was a tough weekend in Bahrain — so disappointed to lose both cars. But the team kept pushing; We felt we were not as strong as we feel we’re going to be in the race so it’s a good sign to be on pole,” Perez said.
“Overall, I think it was so difficult…as in Q2 we stopped for like half an hour so keeping your head, keeping in focus, it’s quite difficult — a lot of time to stay focused to be thinking what you have to do to [make] that perfect lap, and I [made] it when it mattered. I can do 1,000 laps and I don’t think I can improve this lap time.
“There’s no other circuit like this. If I can get pole here, I can get pole anywhere. This is definitely the most demanding place to get the perfect lap. The level of risk and precision around this place is just tremendous.”
Perez says the amount of extra lap time he found on his final run came as a result of him taking a number of chances, pushing the limits just that bit more to try and beat the Ferrari pair.
“I think the amount of risk I had to take — risk together with precision — just nailing it on all the entries and the level of risk was extremely high, it could very easily go wrong.”
Leclerc admitted he was surprised to be beaten by Perez, having felt he had done a lap of his own that would be good enough for pole.
“No, I wasn’t (expecting it),” Leclerc said. “Fair play to Checo, it has to be an incredible lap as I knew I had done quite a good lap, and Checo just came out and did better, so a great job from him. I struggled a bit more in the last sector and the risk he took has probably paid at the end.”