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Sergio Perez warns Force India's midfield rivals: We're closing the gap

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Red Bull rebuild Ricciardo's car after P3 engine blow-out (2:29)

The Red Bull engineers managed to get Daniel Ricciardo out in P1 just over two hours after his engine blew. (2:29)

Sergio Perez believes qualifying eighth on the grid for Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix proves Force India is slashing the gap to its midfield rivals.

Force India has started the season off the pace and has recorded just one point from the opening two races. The team has looked better since arriving in Shanghai and Perez was able to convert that promise into a Q3 appearance on Saturday, where he was able to finish ahead of a Renault and a Haas for a spot on the fourth row of the grid.

"I'm extremely pleased," Perez said after qualifying. "It's really tight margins but we're closing up the gap but we're coming. We're definitely making progress."

Force India brought several upgrades to the last race in Bahrain but Perez says the step forward has been down to understanding the whole package.

"We are progressing. The main weakness of the car is the rear. In that regard we are making progress. That has improved a bit. We had little upgrades. It's more about the understanding and trying to find the best possible balance.

"The main balance issue is still there, but we're progressively improving. Today was one of those days where the driver could make a big difference because the wind conditions changed so much. And the conditions out there were very tricky. As a team, we worked really well together to understand the changes and that made a massive impact in today's performance."

When asked how he felt his prospects looked for the grand prix, he said: "It's going to be very hard. I will be very disappointed if I come here with a worse track position than today. I really want to keep that and probably be the best of the rest more."

Formula 1 Heineken Chinese Grand Prix U.S. coverage presented by Mothers Polish (All times Eastern)

On the Grid - Sunday, April 15 - 1:30AM - ESPN2
Race - Sunday, April 15 - 2:05AM - ESPN2
Encore - Sunday April 15 - 1:00PM - ESPNEWS
Encore - Sunday, April 15 - 09:00PM - ESPN2