Perez delighted to get ‘everything right’ in Baku qualifying
Racing Point’s Sergio Perez proved once again why Baku City Circuit is one of his favourite tracks on the Formula 1 calendar.
The Mexican driver has been on the podium here twice before, in 2016 and 2018, and he was looking full of confidence again this weekend as he flew to fifth place in qualifying for the 2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
That makes him officially the ‘best of the rest’ after the combined ranks of the Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull squads.
- Bottas beats Hamilton to Baku pole after Leclerc crashes
“It was a great qualifying, the team did a tremendous job in terms of the strategy,” he beamed after the end of the session.
“We reacted really well and got all the decisions right – when to go out and when not to go out.”
The situation had been made more complicated by two lengthy stoppages for on-track accidents, including a crash for Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc midway through Q2.
That pushed the session much later into the evening than planned, and meant temperatures were plunging as the sun dropped low in the sky.
“It was a long session, the track cooled down a lot but I think we did a good job and we were able to get more out of the car,” confirmed Perez.
Racing Point team principal and CEO Otmar Szafnauer had also found it a fascinating qualifying. “It was a very interesting session, especially as the track temperatures dropped the longer the sessions went on.
“Sergio got into a good rhythm early on and did a very good job to maximise the performance of the car in each of the sessions. To end up as the fourth quickest team here is very satisfying.”
With such a high grid position, Perez now has every opportunity to get himself another podium in Sunday’s race. But he knows it won’t be easy with the likes of Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen starting ahead of him.
“It will be a long race, we have some very fast cars around us but anything can happen here in Baku,” he acknowledged. “A single mistake can cost you a lot.
“This is a very unique track, it pushes the driver to the maximum. You need to be on the limit every lap without making any mistakes and that takes a lot of commitment and confidence.”
“It is important to stay cool, and I think if we are able to finish the race we should be able to score good points.”
Unfortunately his team mate Lance Stroll was less successful, missing out on getting through to Q2 after missing the cut in the opening round.
“It’s a shame to go out in Q1, I did what I could,” the Canadian commented. “I had to abort my first lap due to the yellow flags, so I only had one attempt.
“In the end, the lap just wasn’t good enough so all we can do is look ahead to tomorrow. The potential of the car is good, as Sergio has shown,.
“If we come up with a good strategy and make the most of any opportunity we can still come up with a good result, so let’s see what happens.”
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