Sergio Perez has revealed that he approached the Italian GP qualifying session somewhat blindly following limitations in his preparations due to a crash during Friday’s second practice session.
The Mexican driver finished fifth in Q1, moved up to fourth in Q2, but struggled to match his teammate Max Verstappen’s pace in Q3. The qualifying session at Monza presented a challenge for all drivers as they were required to use the mandatory set of hard, medium, and soft tires, part of Pirelli’s Alternative Tire Allocation second test.
Perez’s difficulties began with a crash at Parabolica during the second practice session, which disrupted his rhythm and caused him to miss critical laps towards the end of the session. Additionally, his limited running during the third practice session, partly due to an oil leak that interrupted the session, had a cascading effect on his preparation. As a result, the team had to make a power unit change by fitting a previously used unit for the qualifying session.
Despite these setbacks, Perez emphasized his satisfaction with his fifth-place finish. He stated, “Considering the circumstances, I missed the third practice session and entered the qualifying completely blind. I didn’t use new tires before the qualifying, so it wasn’t an ideal day, but it is what it is.”
“I believe given how small the gaps are, our preparation wasn’t ideal. We were very fast yesterday; I think we looked great yesterday. Unfortunately, today, we couldn’t show what we could do.”
Perez dismissed the notion that the crash had a significant impact beyond affecting track time. He said, “These things can happen. It’s just that we had issues with the car’s setup this morning, which didn’t help us. And unfortunately, we had problems with the engine, so we had to change it, which was a bit of an extra.”
He acknowledged that optimizing the car for the three different tires used in the qualifying session was challenging, especially with his earlier setbacks. Perez explained, “It’s quite tough, especially when you’ve had a bit of a problem like I did this morning, and you go completely blind into it, and you use the soft tire for the first time in Q3; you’re one step behind. Hopefully, in the race, we won’t encounter any issues in the first lap.”
As for his race prospects, the Red Bull driver stated, “The higher up, the better. I’m starting from the third row, and hopefully, I can make it to the second row.”
“I don’t want to aim for the lead, but I want to get into some positions, and hopefully, we can achieve that tomorrow.”
He emphasized the importance of working together as a team, minimizing time loss, and managing tire usage effectively during the race.
Perez also refuted claims that Ferrari wouldn’t have the race pace to contend on Sunday: “What we’ve seen so far hasn’t been like that. But we’ll see tomorrow. I think there’s a long race ahead of us.”