Although Sergio Perez qualified only P9 for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, he believes that was down to the actions of Charles Leclerc and Ferrari.
As much as Leclerc fumed at his team’s decision to send him out on intermediate tyres in Q3, the only driver on that compound, he was not the only one left baffled by that choice.
Perez had the unfortunate track position of being behind Leclerc, so while he and Red Bull had correctly opted for the softs, he was unable to make the most of it as he was stuck behind the Ferrari.
The Mexican’s frustrations only grew after Leclerc did not ‘box’ following his out-lap, instead choosing to stay out and hope the rain was coming.
By the time Leclerc eventually did pit for softs it was too late for both he and Perez, with the red flags caused by George Russell soon bringing an end to the competitive action.
Speaking after the session, Perez blamed Ferrari for his P9 finish, saying he did not know “what they were doing”.
“It was unfortunate, I don’t know what Leclerc and Ferrari were doing,” he told F1.com.
“It was very clear he was too slow on the inters on the out-lap and I thought he was going to ‘box’. It was quite obvious to me he would ‘box’ and get onto the slick tyres, but then he just stayed in front and I did my lap just behind him and unfortunately that meant I have lost too much.”
With Magnussen taking a shock pole position, Perez, who topped FP1, will no doubt have wondered what could have been and he went on to suggest he could have secured a top-three finish.
“You will never know, but I think I could have been a lot higher, top three [I] should [have] been.
“Unfortunately we are starting P9 and super-disappointed with the result.”
Perez does at least have a shot at redemption with Saturday’s sprint offering the chance to move up the grid ahead of Sunday’s main event.
“We will try hard tomorrow to try to recover and get into the points,” the Mexican said.
It was a better day for his team-mate Max Verstappen who, despite missing out on back-to-back pole positions, will start on the front row for the fourth time in as many races.
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