Sergio Perez relieved to be back in form with Top 6 finish at Interlagos
After he was beaten in the last four races by teammate Esteban Ocon, Force India's Sergio Perez fought back in Brazil to finish sixth in Saturday's qualifying in Brazil.
In the relatively cooler conditions, the Force India drivers were challenged by both the Renaults, Williams' Felipe Massa and McLaren's Fernando Alonso all-through the sessions.
However, a crucial lap from the Mexican at the right time, put him ahead of the pack, as he now starts from fifth after penalty to Red Bull Racing's Daniel Ricciardo.
"It was the best we could have done today and the Renaults were pushing quite hard, Alonso as well with his McLaren," said Perez. "We really struggled to make it into Q2, the gaps were really close. There was some rain falling out [then].
"We managed to do a really good lap in those conditions and that meant a great qualifying for us. [I didn't lose time] on the first run, but on the second one, probably I lost around tenth and a half of a second in the last corner.
"I have to say ‘thank you’ to the team: we went through everything to understand how the latest upgrades on the car work because I seemed to struggle a bit in qualifying at the last few races.
"The engineers have worked so hard and today’s result proves our pace. I am pleased to be back on form and I am looking forward to the race."
Meanwhile, for Ocon it was a miss from Q3 - the first since Singapore - after he finished a mere 0.062s behind 10th placed Renault of Carlos Sainz in Q2.
The Frenchman will start from 10th with Ricciardo's penalty and with a free tyre choice, Ocon is hoping strategy can bring him back in the race. "It was not a perfect session," he said.
"The margins are always tight here and a few hundredths would have made the difference. For whatever reason we didn’t make our usual step between Friday and Saturday, and that’s one of the reasons we were not as strong as we should have been.
"I was also struggling with putting all the sectors together over one lap because I was gaining time in sector one, but losing grip in sector two. It feels as though we just didn’t get the most from the tyres when it mattered in Q2."
With fourth already secured, the Indian outfit will be aiming to extend its points run and cross the 200 mark in a season, but the fight between the drivers is still on as Ocon sits nine points behind Perez in the drivers' standings.