The under-pressure Mexico, fresh from crashing out of his home race last weekend, was a disappointing ninth in a dramatic, rain-affected qualifying in Brazil after seeing his only Q3 lap ruined by a spin for Oscar Piastri.
Perez was one of the last drivers out of the pits and was forced to abandon his lap when Piastri ran wide at the final corner, resulting in yellow flags.
Up until that point, Perez was convinced his lap would have been good enough to join Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen, who claimed pole position, on the front row for Sunday’s race.
Q3 was brought to an early end when heavy rain lashed down on the Interlagos circuit, preventing the field from completing a second run.
"We were just incredibly unlucky today,” Perez told Sky.
“I should have been on the front row. My lap was very close to Max's until the last corner and I found Piastri, so I had to back off my lap.
“That meant that I was just P-nowhere. Very unfortunate because it felt like we had a lot better today.”
Perez will start the grand prix four places behind Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, who he is 20 points ahead of in the battle to secure second place in the drivers’ championship.
“There are some good points and good opportunities to race from here,” he added.
Perez’s future remains the subject of intense speculation amid his ongoing form slump, though Red Bull have denied that he must secure runner-up spot behind Verstappen to be retained for 2024.