Sergio Pérez admitted that he and his Racing Point Force India F1 Team were caught out by track evolution during Qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix, with the Mexican finding himself on the wrong side of the cut-off time in Q1.
Pérez only attempted one run on Saturday afternoon and was in the pit lane as the session drew to a close, but he saw driver after driver improve their time, meaning his 1:21.888 was good enough for sixteenth, with Romain Grosjean edging him out by just 0.001 seconds.
It was an extremely tight Q1 at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, with eight drivers within the 1:21.8 bracket, but unfortunately Pérez was the seventh of those and found himself sitting out the rest of the session.
“I am very disappointed to go out in Q1,” said Pérez. “It’s frustrating because we had so much potential to be right behind the top three teams this weekend and instead we are out after just one run.
“It’s very hard to digest: we thought we were safe but we underestimated how much the track would evolve in just a few minutes. We were only two tenths behind Esteban [Ocon] in P7, but with such a close field the margins are very small and we lost out by just one thousandth of a second.
“We have to admit we made a mistake as a team: the call not to go out was wrong, but I also should have done a better lap during my first run. I lost some time and that left us vulnerable.”
Pérez has been forced to adjust his plans for race day after his surprise elimination, but he still has ambitions to score points as the pace of his car has been strong.
“The plan for tomorrow is to minimise the damage we’ve done today,” said the Mexican. “We’re still going to try to make it back into the top ten and bring home some points.
“Our car has pace, just like last week, but it’s going to be hard work to get through the field.”