Sergio Perez was encouraged by Racing Point’s pace at the end of Friday’s running in Bahrain, but the Mexican says the field’s “tight margins” promise a fierce qualifying session on Saturday.
Perez clocked in third in FP1 and 4th in the evening session at Sakhir, just 0.432s behind pace setter Lewis Hamilton. The performance bodes well for Racing Point’s intense battle for third in the Constructors’ standings against McLaren and Renault.
But with just a little over a second separating the top-ten, Perez sees a big fight brewing for qualifying, but insists tyre management will also prove critical on race day.
“I’m happy with the pace today: it’s an encouraging start, but it’s very clear that the margins are extremely tight – one or two tenths could make a big difference on Saturday,” Perez said.
“We’ll see how that plays out tomorrow, but I think the most important factor this weekend will be the tyre management.
“That could make the difference in the really tight battle we’re in because it’s close between ourselves and our rivals.
“The red flag affected everyone’s long runs in FP2, but we were still able to learn a lot about the tyres.
“We will go away tonight and look into how we can improve further for tomorrow in qualifying and how the tyre wear can influence strategy in the race.”
Turkish Grand Prix poleman Lance Stroll agreed with his teammate that Racing Point was off to a good start, but the Canadian is also expecting tyres to be a crucial factor on Sunday.
“I think today was a good start to the weekend and I’m happy with how the car felt out there,” Stroll said.
“We looked on the pace pretty quickly in FP1 and we were able to improve in the more representative FP2 in the night-time conditions.
“The running was a bit disrupted today, due to the red flag and the 2021 tyre programme, but we were still able to get a good day’s work done.
“That’s given us a few things to think about and review tonight to see if we can find further improvements before qualifying tomorrow,” he added.
“As expected, today’s running has shown that managing the tyre wear is going to be an important element of the race strategy, so that could make for an exciting race on Sunday.”
Source: Formula 1 – F1I