Perez “disappointed” with P4 in F1 Miami GP grid but “happy” with pace: “A couple of hundredths and it would’ve looked a lot different”

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Sergio Perez will start the 2024 Miami GP from fourth on the grid, after a strong qualifying session which saw the Mexican just over two tenths of a second back from his team-mate and reigning world champion Max Verstappen – but that small gap of 0.219s was enough to fit two scarlet Ferrari’s in between the Bulls, which left him down in P4.

Perez, who was on pole in Miami 12 months ago, has shown improved qualifying form in the 2024 season, the peak of which was at the Japanese GP, when he was only 0.06s back from Verstappen.

In Miami, he couldn’t replicate that, and speaking to selected media after the race, the Red Bull driver explained how he didn’t get his opening lap in Q3 “sorted”, which then put him on the backfoot as the track failed to deliver the expected improvements in the final run due to “on the edge” ever-changing conditions affecting tyre preparation and temperature:

“It was a very tight battle,” said Perez. “A tenth or two would have put me on pole, so it was all very tight.

“Unfortunately I didn’t get my first run in Q3 sorted, so it’s something that we lost. And the track I think was a little bit slower also in that final run.

“So yeah, I did not really maximize my potential today, but I think it was the same for everyone. The grip is so much on the edge that anything could have happened today.”

The six-time grand prix winner admitted he “still doesn’t understand” why exactly the tyres behaved the way they did in the final runs, as pretty much all the drivers struggled to find any form of significant improvement compared to their initial lap, and emphasized how a “couple of hundredths” would’ve made all the difference – he was just 0.08s behind Charles Leclerc’s time that was good enough for the front row:

“It’s been really hard. I still don’t understand,” he said about tyre preparation on the out laps. “There is so much going on with the tyres, and at the end of the day we just didn’t maximize it. I mean, when you are so close between the front, unfortunately I was on the wrong side of the tent.

“A couple of hundredths and our qualifying would have looked a lot different. I’m disappointed to be fourth, but I’m happy in many ways that we have a very strong pace sometimes.”

Speaking of Ferrari, Perez admitted that the red cars will be “strong”  opponents for Red Bull heading into Sunday’s grand prix – but doesn’t expect the start to be his only chance of potentially getting ahead of Leclerc and Sainz:

“I think they are strong and they will be a strong opponent tomorrow. We will see what we are able to do.

“I think if we are able to get one of them or two [off the line], it will be great, but it’s not everything.”