Sergio Perez has admitted that being able to make his Pirelli tyres last longer than those around him may be his only hope of taking points from the Chinese Grand Prix.
The Mexican missed the cut at the end of Q2 on Saturday afternoon in Shanghai, and will start from the outside of row six in his bid to add to the ninth place he took in Malaysia three weeks ago, but he remains optimistic about the McLaren team's ability to bounce back from its poor start to the year.
“Of course, I am not happy!” he told the official F1 website, “We should have made it into Q3. We definitely thought that we would make it there [but], unfortunately, I didn't find as much as maybe others did on my fast lap in Q2. The warming of my tyres was far from ideal – [and that] probably that has cost me Q3!”
Conceding that his troubled opening day – when he went off in both free practice sessions and damaged his MP4-28 – Perez insisted that he was not at odds with the Shanghai International Circuit, but admitted that he was now relying a lot on his team to help him move up the order.
“True, it's been a difficult time so far, [as] we had hoped that the new parts would help us to close the gap a bit more, but I am convinced that we are going in the right direction,” he commented, “This is only the third race of the season, so everything is still wide open. McLaren will bounce back - there is absolutely no doubt in my mind!
“With so much unpredictability in place with the tyres, you could end up in any position in the race. I definitely believe that points are within reach. A lot will depend on the strategy, [so] I hope we will get it right. McLaren has proved time and again that they know how to set-up a good strategy and tyre management is probably our biggest asset in a long race. Jenson and I have proven in the past that we can go that extra mile with the tyres, [so] let's hope that it is also the case in the race.”