Sergio Pérez was taken by surprise by his lack of pace on Saturday as the Mexican struggled for performance during Qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix.
The Mexican driver will be starting in eighth but thought he would get a much higher position after finding promising pace on Friday. The midfield pack will all be tight come Sunday’s race but Pérez is still confident he will have good race pace.
Pérez said: “I was a bit surprised to only be P8, so we need to look over the data and figure out why we seemed to lose some pace today, because we weren’t as strong in FP3 or qualifying compared to yesterday.
“It was also really tight out there and the gaps between cars were very small. I don’t feel we were able to show our true pace and we struggled on the mediums in Q2. We know it’s going to be tight in the race tomorrow too, but I feel confident we will have good race pace.
“I think we can move forward and still score plenty of points. There’s going to be a bit of an unknown with the weather too, so we might need to react quickly if rain arrives for the race.”
His BWT Racing Point Formula One Team team-mate Lance Stroll couldn’t do any better and will be starting the race in ninth.
The Canadian was also expecting much more from his qualifying session. His session was marred by trying to reach Q3 on medium tyres which made the driver lose a couple of tenths of a second on nearest rivals.
“We weren’t as competitive as we wanted to be today and we were expecting more. We tried to reach Q3 on the medium tyre, but it just wasn’t possible. In Q3 I lost two tenths on my best lap by locking up at the last chicane, which is a crucial part of the lap,” said Stroll.
“When the grid is as tight as it was today, that’s costly and it meant I wasn’t able to improve on P9. It was a frustrating day, but now it’s about bouncing back tomorrow. We need to go away tonight and review because there’s a lot for us to analyse and improve to try to get back to the sort of pace we were showing on Friday.
“All in all, I think we’ll have solid race pace tomorrow and anything can happen – and there’s always the possibility of rain. We’re right in the mix and it’s going to be a close battle, so we can still fight for good points.”
CEO and Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer hoped his drivers could reach Q3 on the mediums so they had more soft tyres to their advantage for the top ten showdown but things just weren’t going there way.
“We had hoped to reach Q3 on the medium tyres, but with all the teams so closely-matched, we had to switch to the softs to progress. This left both drivers with just one set of the softs for Q3 and we chose to run early in the session,” said Szafnauer.
“Our qualifying pace didn’t quite match our expectations from practice, so that’s something we need to understand going forward. It’s tomorrow that counts, though, and we’re certainly well placed to compete for good points. I’m optimistic that the race pace will be strong, but there’s a chance rain showers could influence the race too.”