Unwell Sergio Perez rues mistake on fast lap in Malaysian GP qualifying
Sergio Perez has had an upper hand on Force India teammate Esteban Ocon on Saturday's, out-qualifying the French driver 11 times in 15 races in the 2017 Formula 1 season so far.
In return, Ocon has only beaten Perez four times, the latest coming in Malaysia after Bahrain, Hungary and Italy. The Frenchman finished sixth, while the Mexican was ninth.
It was split between the two drivers in the first two qualifying sessions, with Ocon finishing ahead of Perez in Q1, while the latter was ahead in Q2.
But in the final part, Perez ended up 0.180s off Ocon's time after an unwell Mexican made a mistake in Turn 11. He was also beaten by McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne and Renault's Nico Hulkenberg in the process.
"It wasn’t an easy qualifying session for me. I’ve been unwell this week and this is possibly the worst place to not feel 100 percent," said Perez after qualifying.
"I made a mistake in turn 11 during my final lap in Q3 and lost my rhythm. It was a small lock-up on what had been a very good lap until then, but it cost me enough time to be only ninth.
"It’s still a good result, all things considered, and it puts us in a good position for the race. It’s going to be a challenging Sunday because Malaysia is a very physical race – probably the hardest of the year.
"The start will be a key moment and I hope to gain a few places. It’s a race in which anything can happen and the weather is always unpredictable.
"Yesterday’s interruptions mean nobody really has a clear understanding of the long run pace, but I think we can come away with a strong result," he added.
For Ocon, it was his second best qualifying result of the season after Italy - the Frenchman believing that the tweaks made after Singapore, helped them achieved the improved results.
"I think it [the lap] is up there. I don’t think it is [my] best. I missed last corner, but let’s not speak about that," he said. "It’s a great team achievement today, looking at where we were in Singapore.
"The analysis we did [after the race], we just put the car out this weekend [with them] and it was very near where we needed it to be, I think we found a sweet spot in the qualifying."
While the Top 3 teams look apart at Sepang as usual, Force India is in a good position to be ahead in the midfield pack on Sunday.