Sergio Perez believes he missed out on a spot on the front row for Sunday’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix due to a yellow flag in Q3 that forced him to back out of his flyer.
While qualifying unfolded on a dry track, conditions deteriorated in the closing stages of the session as the wind picked up and storm clouds rolled in to Interlagos.
Perez’s teammate Max Verstappen had posted a 1m10.727s lap that was good enough for pole, the Red Bull driver edging Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc by 0.294s.
Positions were frozen with four minutes to go following race control’s decision to red flag the session due to the adverse weather.
But just before the stoppage, Perez was on track to join Verstappen on the front row of the grid when he encountered at Turn 13 the McLaren of Oscar Piastri who had run wide and onto the grass, which triggered a tallow flag at the corner.
"We were just incredibly unlucky today. I should have been on the front row,” rued Perez, who will line up ninth on Sunday’s grid.
"My lap was very close to Max's until the last corner, and I found Piastri so I had to back off my lap.
"It meant that I was just P-nowhere. It's very unfortunate because I felt like we had a lot better."
Perez, who is looking to turn around his fortunes this weekend after his devastating opening lap retirement at his home race in Mexico, reckoned that all was not lost for race day.
“Definitely, there are some good points and good opportunities to race from here,” he said.
"Checo was unlucky in his lap, falling victim to the yellow flag brought on by the Piastri incident," added Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.
"Unfortunately the weather set in before he had time to lay down another lap time. But there is a wealth of opportunity at this track, so plenty to come on Sunday."