Sergio Perez believes he could pump in 1,000 laps and would not be able to replicate his Saudi Arabia pole lap.
While all the talk was about a Charles Leclerc-Max Verstappen scrap for pole at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, it was Perez who gatecrashed the party, snatching pole for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix from Leclerc.
It is Perez’s first pole position in Formula 1, while he is also the first Mexican polesitter in the history of the series.
“Thank you guys…hard work always pays off, man,” said Perez as he crossed the line and was congratulated by his Red Bull crew on the pole, a 1:28.2 in Jeddah that represented a dream lap.
“What a lap, unbelievable,” he told Sky Sports F1.
“I could do a thousand laps and I don’t think I could beat that lap. It was unbelievable. We were not really expecting to match the Ferraris in qualifying. We were focusing mainly into the race, so hopefully we will get them tomorrow.”
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Red Bull principal Christian Horner was equally as thrilled with Perez’s achievement, describing his performance as “unbelievable”.
“I’m just so so pleased for Checo, that lap was mighty,” Horner told Sky Sports F1.
“We could see it coming, it was coming it was coming, but the Ferraris put down such a competitive marker and for Checo to go and do that!
“Only the second time I think he’s outqualified Max and to put in a lap like that, here, at the hardest most dangerous circuit that we go to, an unbelievable performance from him!
“Whatever he had for lunch, breakfast and dinner last night, we’re going to give him the same tomorrow!
“A phenomenal perfomance for him and just so happy for him, he’s worked incredibly hard, I think the car this year is more suited to his style, it’s not quite as quirky as last year’s car and he’s done a great job there.”
Verstappen only managed P4 on the grid for Sunday’s race, so could Perez, who has always been considered the race specialist, now become a regular threat on Saturdays?
Horner acknowledged that by Perez’s own admission, qualifying has not been a strength, so hopes this pole will prove to be a big confidence booster.
“I think Saturdays by his own admission have never been the strongest part of his armoury, he’s always come alive on race day,” Horner explained.
“So to deliver that kind of performance at this circuit, that’s great for him, it’ll do his confidence a world of good and we just need to convert that into a great result tomorrow.”
Since the Verstappen-Perez partnership began in 2021, it has been Verstappen providing the vast majority of Red Bull’s success, so Horner believes that this pole will now lift Perez’s side of the garage.
“I think it lifts everybody, particularly Checo’s side of the garage, there’s been a lot of winning on the left-hand side of the garage, for the right-hand side crew, they’ve been so supportive,” said Horner.
“We are one team, but to have their driver get that result after all the hard work that’s going in is really impressive.”