Sergio Perez completed one of his best laps in his Formula 1 career after he qualified second for the European Grand Prix, although he will drop five places on the grid due to a gearbox change penalty.
The Sahara Force India driver had a strong weekend after setting a third fastest lap time in Free Practice 2. Until his weekend was turned upside down after crashing out of Free Practice Three after he smashed the right rear wheel of his VJM09 against the barriers at Turn 15.
The engineers worked tirelessly to get the car ready in time for qualifying and he was able to set the second fastest lap time to finish behind the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS of Nico Rosberg. However, the Silverstone-based outfit had to change the gearbox which led to a five place grid penalty for the race, which will push Perez down to seventh.
Even with this disappointment, the Mexican still has a good feeling about the Grand Prix at the Baku City Circuit.
“That was a special qualifying session,” said Perez. “In Q3 I did one of my best laps in Formula One – maximising every corner and kissing the walls.
“As a team it’s been a very strong performance. At the same time I’m still angry with myself because of what happened at the end of final practice and the grid penalty for the gearbox change. I should be starting from the front row of the grid, but I now have to drop back to seventh. Tonight I need to try and clear my mind, put that frustration behind me, and focus on moving forward in the race.
“I need to say a big ‘thank you’ to my team for the amazing job they did to fix my car in time for qualifying. I hope I can give them a special result to celebrate tomorrow. It’s not going to be an easy race because the track is so challenging and it’s easy to make mistakes, but at the same time this can open up opportunities to make up ground. I still have a good feeling about the race.”