Perez ‘pleased with comeback’ after tough qualifying

Sergio Perez celebrated his return to the track with Racing Point with the fourth fastest lap in qualifying, a positive result achieved despite the hot and windy conditions.

Quarantined for two weeks after testing positive for COVID-19 before the British Grand Prix, Perez eased himself back into action in Barcelona.

The Mexican’s followed up his solid performance in FP3 with an equally strong run in the Saturday afternoon session, with his best effort yielding a spot on the second row of Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix alongside Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and just ahead of his Racing Point teammate Lance Stroll.

    Spanish Grand Prix Free Practice 3 – Results

“I’m pleased with that comeback,” Perez told Sky F1, highlighting the “hot and windy” conditions that prevailed in the Q3 shootout.

“Very hot, very windy as well in the final sector, changing direction through qualifying, It wasn’t an easy session out there but I think overall a great result for the team.”

The wind wasn’t the only factor that impacted running in the all-important session as tyre management – an ever-present theme lately – was also a significant element that determined one’s performance.

“It felt good but you have to do so much management,” said the Racing Point charger as he described his fastest lap.

“It’s all about the management you do for the final sector, trying to have the tyres in a nice condition. If you push too hard in one corner, then it’s off, it’s just very hot out there.

“Considering the windy conditions, we had it was a good lap.”

On paper, Racing Point is outpaced by Mercedes and Red Bull, but Perez believes that a good launch off tomorrow’s grid that would allow him to outrun Verstappen into Turn 1 could potentially set him up for a podium later in the day.

“I think if we are able to get a good start, get ahead of Max, we may be able to hold him back because here it’s not an easy track to pass. And the demand of saving and management that we’re going to have to do tomorrow is going to be extreme.

“In terms of pace we don’t quite have the pace to beat the Red Bull and especially the Mercedes, but if we are able to get ahead in lap one, who knows?”

Teams appear to be planning for a two-stop race centered around the soft and medium compounds, but Perez isn’t dismissing a one-stop strategy if circumstances favour such a game plan.

“There is room for a one stop but it’s very marginal,” he admitted. “

“It really depends on how your first stint goes, your first laps, what track temperature you have and the wind.

“The wind has been a big impact on the balance and the level of sliding, so everything is very open for tomorrow.”

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