Both Sahara Force India drivers were eliminated in the second part of qualifying for the United States Grand Prix in Austin, with Sergio Perez out-qualifying Nico Hulkenberg by 0.044s.
Perez missed out on the final part of qualifying by less than two tenths of a second, and will start eleventh once Jenson Button’s penalty for a gearbox change is applied. The Mexican has found the weekend to be far more difficult than he imagined with the strong winds affecting the cars balance more than he would like.
“It has been a difficult weekend so far working with the car balance because the windy conditions have impacted on us quite a lot,” said Perez. “The wind was always changing direction, making the car quite unpredictable and making it difficult to be consistent. So it was hard to get the perfect lap together.
“I had to use two sets of soft tyres in Q1 just to make sure I got through to Q2, which meant I only had a single set of new soft tyres to use in Q2. Given the conditions I think we’ve done a good job, but I wish I could have done even better for the fans because they have made a big effort to come here and show their support. Hopefully tomorrow we can race well and be in the fight for some points.”
Team-mate Hulkenberg will start thirteenth but believed he should have made it into the final part of qualifying had he not had a tear-off visor wrap itself around his front tyre that cost him valuable time.
“To begin with, qualifying was going well and I really believed Q3 was possible,” insisted Hulkenberg. “On my final lap in Q2 I was on target for the top ten until something really unusual happened because a tear-off visor wrapped itself around my front tyre going into turn twelve.
“I’ve never experienced something like that in my career and when I turned into the corner I had no grip, I ran wide and lost a couple of tenths. It was my final Q2 lap so it was quite frustrating and unlucky.
“Looking ahead to the race, it’s going to be tough because the soft tyres are quite a challenge here and we expect more hot temperatures tomorrow. Scoring points will be our aim as we are normally stronger on Sunday afternoon.”