Sergio Perez gave his F1 job prospects another boost when securing an excellent second-row start for the Russian Grand Prix.
The Mexican, unceremoniously dumped by Racing Point for next year in favour of Sebastian Vettel, captured P4 at Sochi behind Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas.
Yet to reveal what his future will hold, although he has been linked with a move to Haas, Perez will know performances such as this will only do him good in terms of finding another drive.
He believed everything possible had been extracted from his car, although was somewhat perplexed that Max Verstappen had managed to claim P2 considering Perez had been matching the Red Bull’s pace in the practice sessions.
“I’m pleased with that, a really good lap in Q3,” said Perez. “I think that was the maximum we could have achieved.
“I was surprised by Max because all weekend he was with us, but then he stepped up a lot in qualifying and so top three was definitely unreachable.
“It was good to beat the Renaults because they were very strong today, so pleased with that result.
“It was a really tough session because the wind kept changing and we had the disruption of the red flag too (for Sebastian Vettel’s crash). It’s a credit to the team that we were able to manage the sessions so well and extract the maximum from the car.”
— BWT Racing Point F1 Team (@RacingPointF1) September 26, 2020
Perez finished on the podium in 2015 for Force India, as Racing Point were then known, but was cautious about his prospects of emulating that achievement.
He said: “I think with the pace Max showed today I don’t think we’re going to be in the mix with him, but who knows? It’s important to get a good, clean start, a good run into Turn 2 and anything can happen.”
It was a much less positive day for Perez’s team-mate Lance Stroll, who had to exit qualifying just as the cars were about to return to the circuit following the red-flag stoppage in Q2.
“We had an overheating issue with the engine while we were in the fast lane, so we took the precaution of switching off the car,” said the Canadian, who will start in P13.
“I’m not sure what it is but we had to stop there. It’s quite frustrating, but we weren’t so quick in qualifying so we’d better look into it. It’s frustrating because we’ve made it into Q3 consistently this year.
“I’ve not quite found my rhythm here yet. I just need to put together the finer details and come back stronger tomorrow. It’s not easy to overtake here, but we have a quick race car.
“If we can get a good start and make some early progress, then it’s all to play for in terms of points.”
Follow all the action from the Russian Grand Prix with the PlanetF1 live centre