The Mexican looked strong in third practice, finishing in fifth place and feeling positive ahead of qualifying. Sebastian Vettel stormed to pole position for Red Bull Racing but Perez found himself in eighth place, qualifying just ahead of his team-mate.
Speaking in a team statement about his qualifying session, he said: “We had a positive practice session this morning, so we hoped we’d have a good qualifying session, too.
“It’s pleasing for the whole team that we got both cars into Q3. However, we were around three-tenths slower than the guys just in front of us – and I’m not really sure where they found those extra tenths because I think we did the best possible job with what we had today.”
Despite qualifying slightly below expectations, Perez is hopeful that he can make progress in the race: “Now, though, we’re only thinking about tomorrow. I’m confident we can recover some of the ground we lost to the guys in front of us today, but that’ll require us to pull together a good strategy for the race. Our engineers are a great bunch of guys, though, so I’m confident we can do just that.”
Team-mate Jenson Button qualified in ninth place and admitted that he didn’t expect much more from the car: “I didn’t really expect more from the car this afternoon, to be honest, and we showed just what it could do, Checo and I setting very similar times to each other.”
Speaking about his expectations for the race, Button is expecting an interesting Italian Grand Prix: “I don’t know exactly where we stand in terms of race pace – it’ll be interesting to find out tomorrow – but the good thing is that I’m on the clean side of the grid, which might be an advantage as it’s usually a bit chaotic down into the first corner here.
“All in all, I reckon we can certainly do something from ninth on the grid. Everyone is going to be on pretty similar strategies tomorrow, I’d say, so we’ll have to see if we can make our race work for us in another way.
“The weather forecast for tomorrow looks a bit changeable, too, and things could get very interesting if it rains during the race.”
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic