Sergio Perez finally ended his Q3 drought after making it to the final stage of Hungarian qualifying.
The Mexican was on a poor run having missed out on Q3 in the last five races, the longest drought of any Red Bull driver in history.
It looked likely that drought would continue when Perez crashed early in FP1 but he recovered to make it into Q3 but even still, it was only for a P9 finish while his team-mate Max Verstappen will start on the front row.
Afterwards, Perez said much of the team’s focus had been on preparing for Sunday’s race and given his low position combined with the difficult overtaking nature of the Hungaroring, he will need that work to pay off.
“It was such a tight battle, especially just having to go through all the compounds,” he said. “We were digging around with the soft there in the end and I think we got caught out with it.
“On the final run in sector one, I think I lost quite a bit like a 10th and a half that would have put us easily I think P4 or something like that.
“But anyway, I think we have a good race car so we’ve focused quite a lot onto tomorrow’s race so hopefully that pays out.”
Despite ending his drought, a P9 starting spot will not be enough to redeem him entirely in Red Bull’s eyes, especially with Daniel Ricciardo performing above expectation to make it into Q2 in the AlphaTauri.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner conceded that it was a “weird grid” but that Perez also needs a good race on Sunday,
“I mean that’s his first time he’s been in Q3 since since Miami,” Horner told Sky Sports F1. “So I think for him, that was important to get there.
“I’m sure he’s not going to be happy being P9 but it’s quite a weird grid. I mean, we’ve got the Alfas in there, we’ve got other cars that are moved around a bit, so it’s a bit mixed up,
“But he’s going to race well tomorrow, we just need to make sure we can give them a good strategy.”