Sahara Force India F1 Team driver Sergio Perez says overtaking Nico Hulkenberg “will be important” in tomorrow’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Perez finished eighth in qualifying – one place behind his former teammate – and, whilst he might be looking for him in the race, he wasn’t looking for him during qualifying. Hulkenberg, starting a fast lap, had to take avoiding action when he found a slow-moving Perez moving across the racing line towards the final corner. Though the move ultimately went without reprimand, Perez is actually blaming Hulkenberg for ruining his running in the second qualifying session.
“I am quite happy with our result tonight, even though I cannot be totally satisfied after missing seventh place by just a tenth.
“We were able to clear Q1 with just one lap, but Q2 was slightly more complicated. Nico [Hulkenberg] compromised my warm-up lap: it was something unnecessary and it completely ruined both our laps. Thankfully it didn’t affect our final result and we still made it to Q3.
“In the final part of qualifying, my first lap wasn’t very good, so I had to deliver on the second attempt. All in all, it’s a good result.”
Looking forward to the race, Perez again mentioned the German driver – saying that overtaking is difficult, and that whilst he wants to overtake Hulkenberg at the start, he’s confident he can do it through strategy if needs be.
“Tomorrow should be an interesting race because the middle of the grid is always very close. It will be important to pass Hulkenberg at the start or during the first lap, because overtaking can be a challenge. If we don’t manage to do it, I am confident we can use the strategy to make our way through. The weather will play a big part too – as it gets darker, the air and track get much cooler and there is a strong wind in certain corners. It will be a challenge but we are in a good position and I am keen to finish the season on a high note.”
Perez is just eleven points ahead of teammate Esteban Ocon, meaning that maintaining the gap to the Frenchman is imperative for the overall standings.