Sergio Perez admitted that the smallest mistake could have been the difference between qualifying seventh and twelfth on Saturday at the Suzuka International Racing Course.
The Sahara Force India driver put in a good final lap to finish seventh fastest, setting the same time to the thousandth of a second as Haas’ Romain Grosjean, with Perez moving up to sixth when Sebastian Vettel takes his grid penalty.
“It was a very intense qualifying session and there were lots of competitive cars out there – I even finished with the same time as Romain [Grosjean] and I was lucky to be classified ahead of him,” said Perez.
“I am very happy about our performance, especially my lap in Q3: the margins are so tight around us and the smallest mistake makes the difference between starting seventh or twelfth, but today we did a really good job as a team.”
Perez believes the team are in a strong position ahead of Sunday’s race as they aim for more points that would help them to extend their advantage over Williams Martini Racing in the Constructors’ Championship in the battle for fourth.
“Starting one place ahead of where we qualified, because of Vettel’s penalty, puts us in a strong position for a good result tomorrow,” said Perez. “If we have a normal race, with no strange circumstances, we can aim to score some important points.
“The strategy will depend on the weather conditions tomorrow, especially if it becomes much cooler than today. Overall I feel positive: we have done 70% of the job today, but the remaining 30% tomorrow is the most important.”