Sergio Perez insists he is still targeting a podium finish in tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix despite suffering an early Q2 exit in qualifying.
After crashing in the opening stage of qualifying at Monaco last Saturday, Perez was absent from the pole position shootout for the second consecutive race weekend.
The Mexican narrowly avoided being eliminated from Q1 before a late off-track excursion on his penultimate run at Turn 5 in the second session dented his chances of advancing through to Q3.
Perez asserts that a rain-disrupted FP3 session contributed heavily to his struggles, citing that the changing conditions meant he was unable to unlock the full potential of his RB19 car in time for qualifying.
“It hasn’t been a straightforward weekend; the conditions were quite tricky, and I wasn’t that comfortable in qualifying,” he revealed.
“I’ve been trying to modify my driving style quite a bit this weekend and as soon as we had some variable conditions it put us on the back foot, and I just couldn’t get the full potential out of the car.
“Going into turn 5, the track was a little bit damp and I just lost the rear and went into the gravel, so we ended up losing a bit of time which was very costly for us. That incident meant that the tyres were too hot on my final lap and it was hard to come back from.”
With Red Bull possessing the leading car in the field by a decent margin once again, Perez also believes he has a good chance of achieving a top-three finish tomorrow.
“However, I think anything is possible tomorrow and we will try everything we can to recover the position and progress through the field,” he declared.
“I am looking forward to the race and I think we should be able to get some good points and hopefully get on the podium.”
Meanwhile, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner echoed Perez’s view that his incident in the late stages of Q2 provided the decisive blow to his pole position aspirations.
Nevertheless, Horner shares his driver’s optimism that he can charge back through the pack on Sunday to score a solid result.
“He went off and then tyre temperature unsettled him,” he added. “P11 tomorrow leaves him a lot to do but we know he can do well here. He will race hard and come out fighting.”
For the second race in succession, Perez will line up a multitude of places behind the sister car as Max Verstappen flew to a comfortable maiden pole position in Spain.
Verstappen currently upholds a 39-point advantage over Perez in the Drivers’ Championship and will have the chance to extend that further by starting 10 places ahead of his team-mate.