Force India sacrificed Q3 to avoid starting on Hypersofts

Force India’s Sergio Perez says the team sacrificed a likely Q3 berth in order to avoid having to start the Mexican Grand Prix on the Hypersoft compound.

Under Formula 1 regulations drivers who make it through to the top 10 shootout must start the race on the compound with which they set their fastest time during Q2.

The Hypersoft compound showed a very high level of degradation during Friday practice at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, while in recent races where it has been used it has been regarded as a disadvantage to run it for the first stint.

Force India therefore used only Supersoft and Ultrasoft compounds during Q2 and did not make it through to Q3, with Esteban Ocon 11th and Perez 13th.

Rivals Renault and Sauber, who filled out the lower four positions in the top 10, must start on Hypersofts, but both Ocon and Perez will have free compound and choice.

“We had the pace to go into Q3 with the Hypersoft tyres, but we didn’t think it was worth the risk to start on those tyres,” said Perez.

“We knew it would be hard to make it into the top 10 on the Ultrasofts, but starting on a harder compound should give us an advantage tomorrow – we basically chose a better strategy over grid position.

“My only regret is that Fernando [Alonso] is ahead of me: I lacked a bit of grip in the final part of my Q2 lap and he was able to be ahead of me on Hypersofts.

“I am confident about our chances tomorrow. We believe our strategy is the correct one and we can move forward in the race.”

Ocon added: “We went into qualifying knowing that we really didn’t want to start the race on the Hypersoft tyres and that’s why we ran on the harder compound [the Ultrasoft] during Q2.

“Being P11 means I can choose my tyres for the start of the race and we have more flexibility with our strategy.

“So I hope our approach to qualifying will pay us back tomorrow. We could have been higher up the grid if we had used the Hypersofts, but I am happy with the way we approached the session.”