Perez blames Red Bull junior driver for poor Barcelona qualifying

Sergio Perez could only manage a place on the third row of the grid by qualifying fifth for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Sergio Perez believes that he can make progress during the Spanish Grand Prix after qualifying fifth, and blames his result on Saturday on a lack of running during practice.

The Mexican was forced to sit out FP1 on Friday to make way for Hitech Formula 2 driver and Red Bull junior Juri Vips.

The Estonian’s first participation in a Formula 1 weekend was partly facilitated this weekend by the new regulation that mandates all teams running a rookie driver in at least two practice sessions throughout the season.

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Vips ended the session 20th and last, but managed 23 laps as he got to within 1.5 seconds of the more experienced rookie Nyck de Vries, who was deputising for Williams’ Alex Albon.

Perez was beaten to the second row of the grid by Mercedes’ George Russell, and believes that missing the first hour of practice played a determining role.

“It was very costly on our side to miss FP1 because the way the tyres have been behaving this weekend, basically it is a single lap and it has been really hard to catch up,” he said.

“I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the car, with the tyres. The car was too much on the edge and it just didn’t come, but I am still optimistic for tomorrow.”

Only three of the 31 races in Barcelona have been won from outside the front row owing to the extreme difficulty to overtake at the Circuit de Catalunya, so the Mexican places emphasis on nailing the start.

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“It will be important to get a good start and get as many positions as possible from the line,” explained Perez. 

“[I will] just go forwards with full attack.”

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As for Vips, he was given a reprimand for holding up the Mercedes of George Russell during practice, before spinning out of the sprint race on Saturday having qualified second .

He then ended the feature race outside of the points in a rollercoaster weekend for the 21-year-old.