Red Bull Motorsport Advisor Helmut Marko has heaped praise on Sergio Perez after the Mexican took third on the grid for the São Paulo Grand Prix Sprint.
Perez has struggled for form this season and has found himself under pressure to keep his seat in F1, despite Marko and Team Principal Christian Horner consistently reaffirming he has a contract for next year.
Strong pace on Friday was undermined by the freak storm that hit Interlagos to leave Perez ninth on the grid for the Grand Prix, but he rebounded well in the Sprint Shootout to secure third, within a tenth of teammate Max Verstappen despite running used Soft tyres for his best effort.
"Perez was very fast," Marko told Sky Germany.
"You mustn't forget he drove with a used set because he didn't want to risk a new one. So, he will certainly be strong in the race."
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Verstappen well positioned for Sprint
Verstappen was left to rue errors on his lap after being narrowly pipped to pole for the Sprint by McLaren's Lando Norris.
Addressing the Dutchman's effort, Marko said: "He didn't get corner 4 and corner 10 right and with such a tight field, that's noticeable.
"But I think it will be a very close, exciting race. In terms of tyres, I think we are very well positioned. You know Max isn't the biggest fan of the sprint format, but I think that suits us."