W he would have thought that. A Force India in the top ten. It could have been two if Nico Hülkenberg hadn't made a mistake in the last corner in Q2. Two tenths were lost. And the rise to Q3. Sergio Perez did it. The Mexican starts from 7th place in the classic. Perez surprised himself.
'I managed two great laps. The one in Q3 was one of the best of my life.' Force India managed to bring the tires up to temperature at the right moment. The car was tuned relatively soft on the front axle. And the engineers sent their drivers on a mini long run with the supersoft rollers. 'I only drove the fastest lap on the third attempt with a cooling-off period in between,' explained Perez. 'That was the key. Only then were the tires properly in the window.' Max Verstappen lost his position against the Force India pilot and regretted: 'We had to pass the second flying lap. After that they were over the hill.'
Williams never got into the tire window
Force India took its chance on a track where mechanical grip is more of a factor than anywhere else. That is exactly what the Williams pilots missed. Valtteri Bottas failed already on the Q1 hurdle. Felipe Massa only posted the 14th fastest time. Thanks to the penalty transfers of Romain Grosjean (gear change) and Carlos Sainz (ignoring the weighing procedure), the Brazilian will start the race from 12th on the grid.
Chief engineer Rob Smedley is particularly excited about this moment. He believes that 80 kilograms of gasoline in the tank will solve the problem Bottas and Massa had to contend with. 'We just couldn't get the temperature into the tires from the inside. We tried everything, ran through the whole range of camber, air pressure, aero balance, mechanical set-up. But the tires just didn't want to get into the window. The fuel weight could help us like last year. '
Button got the yellow flag in between
McLaren-Honda had also calculated more than the starting positions 10 and 13. Neither of the two drivers made it as hoped for Q3. But unlike Williams, the speed was there. Fernando Alonso rolled out on his first lap in Q2 at the beginning of the incline towards the casino with an electrical fault. 'Suddenly the engine was dead.' Jenson Button was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Just as he made his final roundwanted to compete, the yellow flags were waved in the St. Dévote curve. Button took his foot off the accelerator.
'That cost me half a second. In the end, only a tenth was missing to get into Q3. It would have been enough.' Alonso therefore sees good chances for his team-mate to collect the first championship points for McLaren-Honda. For himself, he is less hopeful about Sunday: 'I don't want to sound pessimistic. But this race will be decided on Saturday. And I'm a little too far behind on the grid for that.'