Sergio Pérez had one of his better Fridays of the 2021 Formula 1 season as he ended fastest overall at the Circuit of the Americas.
The Red Bull Racing driver ended down in seventh in the morning session as the first United States Grand Prix weekend since 2019 got underway on Friday, but the afternoon saw him improve dramatically and end the day with the best time.
Pérez feels the battle between Red Bull and the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team will be close in Qualifying on Saturday, with the Mexican feeling he will need to find some time before Qualifying if he is to be a contender for pole position.
“Today was a good day and FP2 was promising, but it’s going to be very tight in qualifying tomorrow,” said Pérez. “Mercedes were certainly very strong so let’s see what they have when it counts.
“I think we have to find a couple of tenths and put everything together to be in the mix for pole.
“There’s a lot to be done now with the engineers to try and improve the car, I think there is some margin to improve our long run pace and our tyre degradation, but all in all it was a positive Friday.”
“Hopefully everything will come together tomorrow” – Max Verstappen
Team-mate Max Verstappen hopes the traffic issues that affected him during the afternoon session do not follow him into Qualifying, with the Dutchman failing to set a representative lap time on the soft tyre in FP2.
The current World Championship leader finished third fastest behind the two Mercedes drivers in the opening session on Friday morning but struggled to find the space on track to set a competitive time in the afternoon, with his best lap seeing him end up down in eighth.
Despite the traffic concerns, Verstappen says there were still positives to take away from Friday’s running, and he hopes to be in contention for pole position on Saturday afternoon.
“Overall it wasn’t easy out there today, the track is quite bumpy and to find the right compromise on the car hasn’t been the easiest but there are a few positive things to look at and we’ll continue to work on that overnight,” said Verstappen.
“In FP2, we didn’t manage to put the lap in on the soft tyre and it was also just a bit of a mess with the traffic. Hopefully everything will come together tomorrow so we can get a good lap in qualifying.”