Sergio Perez will start his second race for Red Bull from second place on the grid in Imola - but the Mexican believes that he could have got pole if not for a mistake at the last corner of his flying lap.
“I should have been on pole today," Perez told the media after the end of qualifying for the 2021 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on Saturday. "I did a mistake on my final corner.
"I think it's everything positive," he added. “We just have to make sure that we keep progressing, and tomorrow is what matters."
Ultimately Perez was just 0.035s away from Lewis Hamilton's pole time of 1:14.411s, and a slender 0.042s quicker than his own team mate Max Verstappen in third place.
Despite missing out on the top spot, today's result is still the best qualifying outcome Perez has achieved in his F1 career. His previous best was third place in Turkey last season.
It's a strong recovery from an unfortunate incident in Friday's first practice when he collided with his former Force india team mate Esteban Ocon which left his RB16B with significant suspension damage.
“I have to say well done to the team," he said. “Yesterday I made a mistake and I made them work hard during the day, so it's a good recovery.
“But the most important is always showing progress," he continued. "I never expected to be here today [given] where we were yesterday. We've been improving, but it's just important to be P2."
In his first race with the team, Perez failed to make it through to the final top ten pole shoot-out round after trying to tough it out on the medium compound.
The team didn't make the same mistake this time, and Perez will line up on the grid on a set of the soft tyres while Hamilton and Verstappen will both be starting the race on a set of the medium compound.
"We are on a different strategy to Lewis and Max, and so it's going to be interesting to see what we can do," he acknowledged. "I think anything can happen tomorrow.
“Most important [is] getting those points, get battling, which is priority at the moment."