Sergio Pérez said he got everything he could out of his RP20 during Qualifying for the Tuscan Grand Prix on Saturday, although his sixth on the grid will become seventh once his penalty for colliding with Kimi Räikkönen during practice on Friday is applied.
The BWT Racing Point Formula One Team racer got through to the top ten shootout at the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello, but with only one set of soft tyres available to him, he only had one real shot at a quick lap in Q3, which was good enough for sixth.
Pérez, who is not running the same updates that team-mate Lance Stroll is running this weekend, hopes for a strong start on Sunday afternoon to put him in contention for a good haul of points come the chequered flag.
“I think we got everything we could out of the car and overall it’s been a positive day for the team,” said Pérez. “It was a good lap in Q3, which was important because we only had one set of Soft tyres remaining [having used two sets in Q1].
“It’s a shame that we have the penalty for the Grand Prix, but if I had to lose a place on the grid – I’m glad it’s to my team-mate! Lance was able to run the car upgrade today, which is looking positive, so that’s a good sign for the coming races.
“It’s a new race for all of us, so there’s plenty of unknowns and calling the strategy won’t be easy tomorrow. A strong start will mean we have everything to play for in the race.”
“I think we could have qualified in P4 or P5 without the yellow flag” – Lance Stroll
Whereas Pérez was happy with his day (penalty aside), team-mate Stroll felt there was still time to find on his side of the garage, and but for the yellow flag caused by the spin by Esteban Ocon, he felt he could have qualified at least fifth, maybe even fourth.
Despite the disappointment, Stroll will be the beneficiary of Pérez’s penalty and will start sixth, and he feels the team had made good gains with the RP20 in between Friday’s running and Saturday’s all-important Qualifying session.
He also hopes that the momentum he’s found in recent races continues into Sunday, and after a podium finish seven days ago at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, he believes he can fight for places higher up the order once again at Mugello.
“It was a little bit frustrating out there today,” said Stroll. “I think we could have qualified in P4 or P5 without the yellow flag on the final runs in Q3.
“I’d set a comfortable banker lap on my first run and I think I was set to improve significantly on my second. Regardless, there’s plenty of positives to take from today. We improved the car overnight and earned a good starting position – and that’s important because overtaking is going to be difficult here.
“I’m happy with the feel of the car and we have good underlying pace, so I think we have the potential for a strong result tomorrow. We were also able to collect more data on our upgrade package and the early signs are promising.
“It’s been a good day’s work and I’m looking forward to the race now.”
“I’m confident our race pace will match our qualifying speed” – Otmar Szafnauer
Otmar Szafnauer, the CEO and Team Principal of Racing Point, felt it was a ‘solid’ Qualifying effort by the team in the first-ever Tuscan Grand Prix, and he is confident they can convert their positions on the grid into good points on Sunday.
Like his driver, Szafnauer believed Stroll had the potential to qualify higher up than he did but for the yellow flags, but overall, it was a good overall result for the Silverstone-based team.
“A pretty solid qualifying effort with both cars showing good speed across the sessions,” said Szafnauer. “Even with Checo’s one-place penalty, it doesn’t change our starting positions as a team with Lance now lining up ahead of Checo.
“Lance was unlucky on his final run in Q3 to be disadvantaged by the yellow flags for Ocon and had to abort the lap. That took away his chance of getting ahead of Leclerc.
“The layout of this track suggests overtaking will be difficult tomorrow, so it was important to secure good starting positions today. I’m confident our race pace will match our qualifying speed and that we can bring home important points tomorrow.”