Sergio Perez says teamwork was the key to Red Bull locking out the front row for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, just one week after controversy involving himself and Max Verstappen in Brazil.
Verstappen refused to give a position to Perez at the end of the last race at Interlagos, with Red Bull saying it put its driver in an unfair position by making the request on the final lap and without having previously discussed it. However, Verstappen insisted he would help his teammate if required in Abu Dhabi — where he is seeking second place in the drivers’ championship — and duly gave Perez a tow on his final run.
“It was a good session,” Perez said. “It was looking better after Q2, then Q3 — it didn’t start that well, especially run one wasn’t ideal. Then the second run was quite a lot better. Not enough for pole, though.
“Still, I think being on the front row, for the team, (is) a good result, especially after the weekend we come from in Sao Paulo where we struggled quite a bit. It’s nice to be back.
“(The tow) certainly did (help). I think we worked really well as a team today. And I could feel, especially sector two, it was working. What you gain, you lose a bit in sector three, but generally I think certainly it was a positive thing.”
Perez says he’s enjoying having something to fight for on Sunday as he and Charles Leclerc start the final race level on points.
“It’s going be a difficult race,” he said. “I do expect them to be strong. So it’s going to be a close battle with Charles, so it will be an interesting one for tomorrow… It’s quite exciting. It’s great to be playing for something in the final race, so it is good.”
Verstappen took pole despite being late out of the garage at the start of Q3, with an issue that he says scuppered plans to offer Perez help on both runs.
“Going into the weekend, we gave Checo the option to choose what he would like: do you want to go first or behind?” Verstappen said. “He chose to go behind and that was also the plan in qualifying, but I was planned to go ahead in the first run as well but my engine…yeah, everything just turned off. But luckily we got it together for the second one.”