Sergio Pérez was thankful to his team for getting his car fixed in time for Qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix after the Mexican crashed during final practice on Saturday afternoon at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
The Racing Point F1 Team driver was sitting in fifth position in final practice when he tagged the wall on the outside of turn twenty-two, with the damage sending him to the pits for repairs. Unfortunately, he required a new gearbox as a result, with Pérez getting a five-place grid penalty as a result.
During Qualifying itself, Pérez was able to make it through to Q2 but missed out by a small margin on advancing to Q3, ending the session eleventh. He would have dropped to sixteenth with the penalty, but thanks to Daniel Ricciardo’s exclusion ahead of him, he will start fifteenth.
“Everybody did a tremendous job to put the car together in time for qualifying,” said Pérez. “It’s very unfortunate that I damaged the car in final practice. This circuit doesn’t allow a single mistake, but I made one.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do ahead of tomorrow, but I believe that we have an opportunity to recover and fight back. It’s a long race and I’ve been in this position before in Singapore. I know that anything can happen here: even when you think you are down and out, you can still come back strong.
“We have good race pace and there are two hours of racing ahead of us. We have to make sure that we finish the race, stay out of trouble and then we can have a shot at the points.”
Team-mate Lance Stroll was eliminated in Q1 having found himself amongst traffic when it mattered most. With free air important, the Canadian was unable to get a clear lap in, with Stroll feeling there was more time to find in his RP-19.
“We were in a bad position out on track,” said Stroll. “I think we had a four-second gap to the car in front and I was being pressured to start the lap from the cars behind. So I had to keep track position or I think it would have been a bigger mess.
“I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault. We’re all doing the best that we can to try and get free air. In Q1 there are 20 cars on the track and everyone knows how important it is. Clean air is very, very important here and I just feel like I had a lack of grip on that second run so I couldn’t deliver the lap time that we needed to get through.
“And it was very tight too: we were missing a tenth to make Q2 so there’s very little in it. I think we had more potential. There were a few more tenths in the car today. I will now focus on racing well tomorrow.”
Otmar Szafnauer, the CEO and Team Principal of Racing Point, said it was a disappointing session all round for the Silverstone-based team, with neither driver being in a position to show the true potential of the RP-19. However, he knows the race is long on Sunday so points are still possible, even from their lowly grid positions.
“It’s been a disappointing qualifying session overall,” said Szafnauer. “Lance was caught up in traffic towards the end of Q1 and didn’t get a clear lap.
“Sergio’s day was compromised by the contact with the wall in final practice, which deprived him of track time and forced the gearbox change. He was on the cusp of making the cut for Q3 but will now incur a grid drop for the new gearbox.
“While I don’t feel we’ve shown our true potential today, I remain optimistic that we can have a better Sunday. The long run pace is encouraging, and we will play the long game tomorrow to take any opportunities that come up.”