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Sergio Perez

Horner: Perez was 'lucky' not to suffer even earlier elimination

Sergio Perez qualified 11th as teammate Max Verstappen secured pole for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Perez Spain
To news overview © XPBimages

Sergio Perez was "lucky" to not suffer elimination even earlier in Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix Qualifying, according to team boss Christian Horner.

Perez was one of three fancied runners not to make it through to Q3, with Charles Leclerc being dumped in Q1 and George Russell managing only 12th as Perez took 11th fastest in a scrappy session with Max Verstappen on pole in the sister Red Bull.

It gives Verstappen a prime opportunity to further increase his points lead in the title race from the 39 it currently stands at, with Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko telling Perez to "wake up" from his dreams of the title.

And Horner believes a Q1 exit was a strong possibility for Perez in a tricky session in Barcelona.

Perez's troubles

Perez's fate was sealed after he ran wide at Turn 5 on his second flying lap in Q2, running through the gravel and losing precious tyre temperature in the cool conditions.

It was this, and the circuit evolution that contributed towards his shock early exit in Horner's view.

"He just had a difficult Qualifying and I think he went off and then the tyres cooled down," Horner told Sky Sports F1.

"He was lucky to get through Q1 into Q2 as the circuit was evolving and then the off he had in Q2, it just unsettled him a little and it was unfortunately one of those days for him. P11 leaves him quite a bit to do tomorrow.

"The tyres are a crucial factor, we checked all the aero loads after Q1, the support back the factory were able to look at the analysis between the two cars, are they generating the same amount of downforce?

"They were like for like so we couldn't see any part misbehaving, obviously we will do a big inspection this evening, but I think it was just about getting the tyres into the window because we know Checo isn't that far off.

"He just didn't get the car working today."

Horner was also confident that Perez would be able to score good points on Sunday, as "he's a great racer and he's just got to get his head down and hopefully we can come up with a good strategy and make some good progress."

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