Sergio Perez admitted he was surprised to beat the Renault and McLaren Formula 1 drivers during qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix on Saturday as he led Force India to the third row of the grid at Interlagos.

Following Mercedes racer Lewis Hamilton's early crash in qualifying, Perez was able to lead the midfield runners and take sixth place in qualifying, breaching the usual lock-out of the front three rows by Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.

With Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo dropping back due to an engine penalty, Perez will move up to fifth place on the grid in Brazil, with the Mexican admitting after the session it ranked as one of his best qualifying performances of the season.

"It's definitely amongst one of my best. It's been a while since I had a good qualifying," Perez said.

"I've been struggling a bit with the latest upgrade of the car, figuring out what is the best balance for myself. So after Mexico we had a really big discussion together with my engineers to understand what was going on with my balance, and I think we got to the bottom of it.

"Obviously here we didn't have much time because we only had FP2, but I think we got on top of it, and I think it will be good from now on my qualifyings.

"Today it was a big surprise we managed to beat the Renaults and the McLaren, they were pushing really hard, especially in Q2. So in Q3 I managed to do a really, really good lap.

"My race pace has been really strong all season, so there I didn't need a change. I needed a change in qualifying, which I'm happy that we managed to get on top of it after Mexico."

Starting fifth, Perez is targeting a decent haul of points, and hopes that some typical unpredictability from Interlagos could help him move into the fight for a first podium of the year.

"Sao Paulo, there's never been a straightforward race. Let's see what happens tomorrow," Perez said.

"I hope some rain can come and give us a chance to fight for the podium, but we'll see. Apparently we're expecting a very hot day."


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