June 21, 2024
Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez recounted a chaotic beginning to his qualifying session at the Chinese Grand Prix, narrowly escaping elimination in Q1. The Red Bull driver ultimately secured a respectable second place on the grid, behind his teammate Max Verstappen.

The path to the Shanghai International Circuit’s starting grid was laden with intense competition during this weekend’s qualifying rounds. Max Verstappen claimed pole position, continuing his dominant form, but it was Sergio Perez’s near miss in Q1 that caught many off guard.

The day started with the stewards’ announcement that they were investigating Nico Hulkenberg for a pit lane infringement, specifically for overtaking during the start of the session. Meanwhile, several incidents further complicated the session. Alex Albon impeded Sergio Perez, though it was deemed no investigation was necessary, while Daniel Ricciardo suffered brake issues. Perhaps most notably, Lewis Hamilton made a costly error at Turn 14, running wide and failing to move past Q1, which was critically analyzed by former champion Nico Rosberg.

Q2 was briefly halted due to Carlos Sainz’s crash, after losing control at the final corner. Despite the setback, Sainz managed to return and secured a mid-grid start. Verstappen, on the other hand, showcased his pace, setting a benchmark that was half a second faster than anyone else during the session.

Into Q3, the tension escalated as drivers battled for top positions. Fernando Alonso managed to put his Alpine into third. However, it was Perez’s narrative of overcoming a rocky start that underscored this weekend’s unpredictability. He reflected on his eventful qualification, where he nearly faced elimination after encountering traffic and having to abort his first timed lap.

“It was very intense. I nearly got knocked out in Q1. I had traffic with one of the Williams, I had to abort my lap, drove back on hot, used tyres and just made it through in P15. It was just a very messy start to qualifying,” Perez shared after qualifying. “Q2 was a little bit more straightforward. I could really get a read into the balance and we were making some nice progress through the session.”

Though the Mexican driver improved his performance throughout the sessions, he couldn’t quite catch Verstappen, who once again proved why he is the reigning champion.

“Unfortunately it was just not enough to get Max, but overall it’s a tremendous team result because the track has changed a lot. We changed a lot the car as well to adapt to the conditions, so hopefully that will also pay out tomorrow.

“It’s everything to play for tomorrow. We can be fighting from there and we can definitely have a strong rhythm. We showed today that we have fairly good pace in the long run, so I look forward to tomorrow.”

As the engines cool ahead of tomorrow’s race, the grid positions are set with Verstappen leading from pole. Perez, despite his earlier tribulations, will start from a strong second place, with Alonso rounding out the top three, setting the stage for what promises to be a thrilling Grand Prix.

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