It wasn’t the best of qualifying days for Sergio Perez, with the Force India driver failing to make it through to Q3 for the first time since Bahrain, and only the third time in 2017.

“It was my most difficult qualifying session of the year,” Perez admitted.

“I haven’t yet managed to feel comfortable with the front end of the car,” he explained. “We made a lot of changes from yesterday, even between third practice and qualifying, but we couldn’t solve the issues.

“In Q2, my first lap was pretty poor and that threw my reference points for the second attempt. In the end, I couldn’t put together a good enough lap and we didn’t maximise our potential.”

Perez ended qualifying in 14th place. However, he’s already gained one position even before the start of the race thanks to a grid penalty for Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat.

Even so, Perez acknowledged that he has limited prospects to improve his situation at the tight and twisty Hungaroring.

“It’s not ideal on a track where overtaking is really tough,” he agreed. “But I hope tomorrow we can be strong. The strategy options are quite limited, but if we can make a good start we can fight for points.”

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Perez’ team mate Esteban Ocon also missed out on making it into the final round of qualifying. The French driver will start the Hungarian Grand Prix two places further ahead in 11th place, following a grid penalty for Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg.

“We were hoping to be higher up today,” Ocon sighed. “But it’s not our strongest track and we were just missing the pace to make the top ten.

“I still have a good feeling in the car and our race pace will be more competitive,” he said, looking on the optimistic side. “I still believe a strong points finish is achievable tomorrow.”

“We’ve been on the fringes of the top ten,” pointed out deputy team principal Bob Fernley. “But ultimately Q3 was just out of reach today.

“We’ve just got to make the most of the race tomorrow and take the opportunities that arise.

“The speed of the car has looked more competitive during the long runs so we remain optimistic that we can be in the fight for some points,” he added. “A strong opening lap is going to be especially important.”

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