Sergio Perez showed impressive pace during qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix, and was rewarded with a place on the third row of the grid at the event he secured a podium finish in 2015.
The Sahara Force India driver was naturally delighted with the outcome of the qualifying hour, and although he set the seventh fastest time he will start sixth due to Sebastian Vettel’s grid penalty.
Perez feels his team are making good progress after so far failing to finish inside the points this season, and is optimistic of changing that statistic on Sunday afternoon.
“I am very pleased with our performance today and my final lap in Q3 was fantastic – just when it mattered,” said Perez. “We were strong in Q1 and Q2; I was feeling very comfortable in the car and I was able to deliver great laps in each of the sessions.
“We are making good progress as a team and our pace over one lap is very strong: it will be interesting to see how we perform tomorrow because we have a fast car behind us and it will be a big challenge to hold our position.
“This is not a track that helps overtaking so there should be some nice battles. We have enough tyres to choose the best strategy tomorrow and I am optimistic we can come away with a nice result.”
Team-mate Nico Hulkenberg was unable to match the pace of his team-mate, and found himself eliminated after Q2, finishing the session down in thirteenth position, and the German is expecting a tough race after not being comfortable behind the VJM09 all weekend long around the Sochi Autodrom.
“It was a fairly straightforward qualifying session, but not with the outcome I wanted,” revealed Hulkenberg. “I’ve not felt comfortable since I jumped in the car yesterday and it’s been a struggle to find the grip and performance we were expecting.
“We changed a lot of parts overnight and before qualifying, but it didn’t take us in the direction we needed. Obviously we can’t change the car ahead of the race so I think it’s going to be a tough Sunday considering how close things are in the middle of the grid.”