Perez disappointed to qualify P9 given McLaren’s improvements

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Sergio Perez believes that he could have qualified higher than ninth for tomorrow’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after a difficult session on Satuday for McLaren where the team failed to live up to its impressive practice pace.

In ninth place, Perez was actually McLaren’s highest qualifier as Jenson Button dropped out in Q2, and the Briton will line up thirteenth on the grid as a result. Despite beating his teammate, Perez is still frustrated by the result.

When asked by NBC Sports if he could have done better, Perez said: “Definitely. We had a great chance today for qualifying, and we feel a bit disappointed we didn’t manage to take the maximum out of my lap in Q3.”

Perez’s final flying lap was compromised by yellow flags which were shown following Lewis Hamilton’s spin at turn twelve, forcing him to ease off slightly.

“I lost a couple of tenths in the first sector but I also had the yellow flags so I lost a bit more compared to my Q2 lap. With my Q2 lap I would be P7, which I think today was pretty possible.”

Nevertheless, Perez remains confident that he can still pick up a good haul of points in the race tomorrow.

“We were only a couple of hundredths out of P7, so yeah, a bit disappointed I have to say with the performance because the car is really performing better, so qualifying was not as straightforward as we would have liked it to be, but I’m very confident that tomorrow I will be very high up on the points.”

The Mexican driver is yet to be confirmed at McLaren for next season after a disappointing year, but he has certainly helped his case to be retained by producing some fine drives in recent races, scoring the team’s second top five finish of the season in India last weekend.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).