Perez not concerned for Renault-Toro Rosso battle, will be aggressive in race
It was yet another Q3 performance from the Force India drivers in the finale of the 2017 Formula 1 season at the Yas Marina circuit. However, both Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon were beaten by Renault's Nico Hulkenberg, who according to the Mexican, was the better driver on the day.
"[It was] really tight, the whole session," said Perez. "I think the Renault, in particular Hulkenberg was a bit faster than us today. Already in Q2 he put a stunning lap that even getting with him, I would have to be perfect on my lap. So, it was really close margin, I expect tomorrow a good battle between us and it will be an interesting one."
With both the constructors' championship and also the drivers' secured already on Force India's side, the Mexican is heading into the final race on Sunday with 'nothing to lose' attitude. Perez insisted that he isn't worried about the battle around him, especially with Renault chasing Toro Rosso for sixth - and that he will bring his aggressive game in the race.
"I think we are in a good battle [for Sunday]. I should put up one thing, I am not going to finish eighth tomorrow, so I’ll give it all, I have nothing to lose."
Even though the two drivers managed to get into Q3, but it wasn't a smooth run for either of them. Perez was upset with Hulkenberg, stating that the German 'screwed' over his lap in Q2. "I think he just screwed us up. He screwed his lap, [and] he screwed my lap.
"There was no need to that, I don’t know his reasons behind, maybe he was a bit worried for Q3, but luckily that didn’t affect us. We were starting the lap, and the very last moment he dived in, so he destroyed his lap, he destroyed my lap. We just found ourselves in a difficult position, I feel that he didn’t react enough well , [but] that’s it we move on from it. "
At the same time, Hulkenberg feels that he took him because he was driving slower and that he didn't want to be stuck behind the Force India for his fast lap. "He was deciding to go slower and slower and I decided to go past. There was no misunderstanding," he said.
"He wasn’t so happy about it but there is no rule that says I cannot overtake on an outlap or I need to give him some space. Don’t touch me, we are racing. He wasn’t doing what was good for me so I decided to go by him," he added, after finishing seventh in a deciding race for sixth position between his team Renault and Toro Rosso.
Meanwhile, Esteban Ocon, who finished ninth, behind his teammate felt his out lap in Q3 was disrupted due to traffic when the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas took him on. Even though it was the last race of the season, the Frenchman thinks these things shouldn't happen and that they will review the situation to be better prepared in 2018.
"I am a bit annoyed with that qualifying because P7 was possible today," he said. "For traffic reasons and getting into the track and not doing the out lap I wanted, we didn’t get the best out of what we were supposed to have.
"A bit more was possible, but it is all to play for tomorrow, hopefully I’ll have good start and I’ll be in the position we were supposed to be. Traffic wise it was difficult, but we have to review that [with Bottas] - to what happened properly, [so] that [it does] not happen anymore because I think that cost me a bit of a time on my lap time in the end, not perfect."