Perez targeting podium after qualifying fifth at Spa


Sergio Perez sees no reason why Force India cannot fight to finish on the podium in tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix after qualifying fifth on Saturday.

Perez’s fastest lap of 1:48.599 saw him finish less than one-tenth of a second behind Valtteri Bottas in third as the Mexican consistently recorded quick times in the fast first sector of the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

Speaking after qualifying on Saturday, a buoyant Perez was keen to talk up his chances of scoring just the third podium finish in Force India’s history in Belgium.

“It’s been a really good day and I am very satisfied with my lap in Q3,” Perez said.

“We were able to improve the car balance from yesterday and this gave me a whole lot of confidence – probably the most I have had this season.

“The car was much more predictable and this allowed me to push more in every corner. I showed very good pace in each of the three qualifying sessions and I am really looking forward to the race tomorrow.

“I see no reason why we cannot fight for the podium. The performance today also gives me a lot of optimism for the remainder of the season.

“The team is doing an amazing job and I am happy I was able to back it up with a good performance behind the wheel. I have been working hard with my engineers to get on top of the updated car and I expect to do this weekend after weekend.”

Teammate Nico Hulkenberg had a less successful afternoon after a mistake in Q2 left him 11th overall.

“I’m not that happy today because we had the potential to be well inside the top ten,” Hulkenberg said. “On my final lap in Q2 I made a small mistake going into turn one – I just locked the tires and missed the apex.

“On top of that we had a small issue with the turbo, which cost us some speed and time down the straights. So I just missed out on making Q3.

“However, the weekend is not lost and I’m sure we can have a strong race from P11. The car has been performing very well this weekend; we’ve looked competitive and I will be attacking in the race to try and move forward.”

Perez will start tomorrow’s race from fourth place by virtue of Romain Grosjean’s grid penalty that sees the Frenchman drop five places to P9 on the grid.

The Belgian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 7:30am ET on Sunday.