Sergio Perez promises to produce at the Miami Grand Prix, citing opponents’ missteps as a good opportunity.
Sergio Perez received a huge gift from Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc before of Sunday’s Miami Grand Prix.
Perez is now on pole position, six points ahead of Red Bull teammate Verstappen, who won in Azerbaijan a week ago.
Verstappen has dropped to ninth, and Leclerc has dropped to seventh, after both made key mistakes in final qualifying on a day where a new track surface, hot temperatures, and windy conditions made life extremely difficult for the drivers.
Verstappen, who has looked out of this world all weekend, made his mistake on his first run in final qualifying. He ran wide at Turn Seven and had to abandon his lap, giving him only one chance at pole.
But doing so made him open to someone else crashing and causing a red flag on the second run, which Leclerc did. His Ferrari collided with the barriers at the same corner, and the practice was called off. There was not enough time to restart the session, so that was the end of it.
erstappen knows how fast the Red Bull is as well as anyone, so he is optimistic that he can climb back up to finish on the podium without too much difficulty.
However, the Dutchman has already had one experience this year of not being able to catch Perez when starting down the field – in Jeddah in March – so he knows he will have his work cut out for him on Sunday if he is to prevent Perez from taking the world championship lead for the first time in his career.
“Podium for sure,” Verstappen replied. “However, I want to win, so this isn’t ideal.” It’s not impossible, but it won’t be simple.”
The expectation around F1 is that Perez will be unable to continue the battle he has mounted against Verstappen through the first four races of the season, and that the Dutchman will finally coast to a third title.
But that is based on prior experience, and it is not how Perez perceives it.
The two Red Bull drivers have two wins each, and Perez believes he should be ahead on points already. He believes he is behind only because of a difficult qualifying day in Australia two races ago, when various issues combined to leave him last on the grid, from which he could only recover to fifth by the checkered flag.
The Mexican had a terrible weekend in Miami up until qualifying, struggling with the car and consistently being 0.5 second or so slower than Verstappen.
But he looked better once qualifying began, and the way events unfolded, he believes he has a wonderful opportunity.
“I know I have a good race pace under me, and I am confident that tomorrow I can deliver,” Perez added.