Force India drivers Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon were both feeling frustrated after failing to make it through to the final round of qualifying in Melbourne.
Perez was bumped out at the last minute in Q2 by less than a tenth of a second. His new team mate Ocon will start from the row behind in 14th place.
“The potential was certainly there for us to make Q3,” commented deputy team principal Bob Fernley. “But Sergio didn’t have the cleanest lap during his final run of Q2. He missed the top ten by a whisker.”
“It’s disappointing to miss out on the top ten by such a small margin,” admitted Perez. “However, P11 is not a bad starting position. We can certainly race for good points.
“All the teams in the midfield seem to be very close to each other in terms of performance and there are going to be very close battles in the race,” he predicted. “I will fight hard tomorrow. I am determined to start the season well,” he concluded.
Perez later received a reprimand from race stewards after exceeding the maximum time between safety car lines at the end of Q2. As he had not impeded another driver, the stewards decided against a more serious penalty.
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Ocon was also ruing a missed opportunity on Saturday.
“I’ve been on the learning curve this week in Melbourne and I’m not feeling particularly satisfied with today’s qualifying session,” he said. “Yes it’s the first time I’ve reached Q2. But there is more potential in the car – I learned a huge amount during the session.
“Unfortunately I made a small mistake on my final run, so I missed the chance to be higher up the grid.
“I go into tomorrow’s race believing there is a good opportunity to fight for points,” he continued. “The first challenge will be the new start procedures, which could really mix things up on lap one.
“We saw today just how close the midfield fight is going to be this year because even small margins can make a huge difference.
“I’m excited for tomorrow and ready for my first race in Melbourne!
GALLERY: all the pics from Saturday’s action
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