Half Term Report: Sergio Perez

The Rookie Report:

Sergio Perez

His entry into Formula One may have been a relatively quiet one, but when it was announced the young man from Mexico would be joining the 2010 ‘Rookie of the Year’ Kamui Kobayashi, his racing successes came to light. Highlights include a British Formula Three National title in 2007 and a 2nd place in the GP2 championship last year. His involvement in the Ferrari Driver Academy help pave his way into Sauber, who use Ferrari engines, and already give rise the rumours it won’t be long until he joins the Prancing Horse.

The Stats:

Races completed 9
Points 8
Retirements 1
Out-qualified team mate 6
Higher race position than team mate 3
Highest qualifying position 10th
Highest race position 7th
Average qualifying position 13th
Average race position 12th

The Season:

Sergio Perez in Australia

Sergio Perez was fortunate enough to join a solid midfield team that has been around since 1993, thus having the experience and expertise behind them to propel a rookie driver forward. He replaced an outgoing Nick Heidfeld and took the decision to move to Switzerland to show his dedication to both the team and the next stage of his career. Entering 2011 Sauber were looking to get a better start than last year, where between Kobayashi, De la Rosa and Heidfeld the team totalled 15 retirements. Although their first race in Australia got off to a great start and when they crossed the line Perez was the first rookie to claim points in a fantastic 7th place (he briefly owned 6 championship points). Kobayashi had come up behind in eighth but a 3mm technical infraction regarding their rear wing saw both drivers disqualified, a rather rough welcome to Formula One for Perez . This said, being the only driver to manage a single pit stop on virtually unknown tyres, in race conditions, didn’t go unnoticed.

Ready to get back on the proverbial horse in Malayasia, his weekend didn’t goes as planned when Kobayashi flexed his muscles and dominated Sauber’s results, although he has a little help from a rogue piece of debris. On the 24th lap Perez’s front wing and floor was hit by a shard of carbon fibre, penetrating the chassis it damaged the Electronic Control Unit which stopped the car in its tracks. It was the same story in China and Turkey, where Kobayashi pulled out the performance on race day by Perez had the edge in qualifying with limited laps. Sergio Perez went out guns blazing in China, clouting Heidfeld early on and skimming alongside Sutil, which earned him a drive through for his troubles. In Turkey though Perez when unchallenged in qualifying, during Kobayashi’s first qualifying lap in Turkey his engine cuts out (fuel pump failure) and being unable to get past the pit lane line under his own steam he is forced to sit in the garage and watch. Then when Formula One settled into the European timezones Perez pushed the disappointment of losing his first points aside and took them back.

Perez hitting the barrier in Monaco

He matched his best qualifying position of 12th around the Circuit de Catalunya, and then raced exceptionally well to lead his team mate into their first double scoring finish for Sauber. It may have taken him since Australia to get back into the groove, but Perez was looking stronger in each race which made the incident in Monaco not only hard to watch but badly timed. It was only a few minutes into the third qualifying session in Monaco that Perez lost control of his car as he exited the tunnel, the car swung to the right upon reaching the sunlight and collided with the barrier before skidding through the chicane. Perez and his car finally came to a rapid stop against the TecPro barrier sideways and heavily. The session was red flagged immediately as the medical staff and marshals worked to get the rookie out of his car, even though there were a few tense moments it was nothing but good news and a testament to how safe the cars have become. He was carried away to hospital with a sprained thigh and concussion, and sat the race out following medical advice.

Perez on his way to his best result in Silverstone

The crowds were happy to see Perez return to the driving seat in Montreal, but after the first practice session he declared himself not able to take part in the remainder of the weekend’s activities. His maturity was applauded and Pedro de la Rosa, who drove for the team last year before being replaced by Nick Heidfeld at Singapore, took care of his car until Valencia. It’s slowly becoming a trademark of the Mexican rookie, but this time his single stop strategy didn’t quite work out as he just missed out on the points, but it was a strong return as he outpaced Kobayashi. Silverstone was an eventful race for Sauber, but it was Perez that prevailed and took his best result of the season so far. Although his success wasn’t without incident, he skidded off the wet track at Becketts and damaged his nose cone, but when Kobayashi destroyed a Force India wheel gun, Perez treated his tyres beautifully and avoided the pitlane yet again. In Germany and Hungary Kobayashi took the reins back on race day, but once again the rookie prevailed in qualifying, and participated in the top ten shoot out for the second time in Hungary.

The Verdict:

Watching Sergio Perez this year has been an interesting evolution, he blasted through the field and surprised everyone when he scored points in his first outing. Beating his team mate certainly garnered some attention too, but unfortunately the subsequent disqualification overshadowed his feat. This said, it ignited a bright start to a career and a season where we’ve seen his ability to nurse his tyres (in a manner we usually associate with Jenson Button) and make great decisions when it matters. In fact his extended stint on the tyres had Pirelli’s director of motorsport, Paul Hembery, questioning whether the rubber they were providing were up to the job. “We were looking and we all thought, ‘He must come in. He’s got to come in. What’s he doing?’ We thought the data men must be wrong and he must have had a stop and no one saw it. We checked. We asked, are you sure? And we were told, ‘Yes, he’s done just one stop’.” Quite the impression for a rookie to make the first time he drove a Formula One car in anger. Although ‘anger’ might be the wrong emotion, he may have Speedy Gonzales in his garage but his speed comes coated in a veneer of calm and collected thought.

The stats look good too, he’s leading his team mate in qualifying but is definitely behind when it comes to race day, but with both Kobayashi and Perez missing out on sessions the true picture is still a little unclear. However what is certain is that on average when he lines up on the grid on Sunday he improves on that position by at least one position. Looking at his best race result from Silverstone, he started the day in 12th and made a good effort to avoid a point scoring position before taking back those points he lost in Australia. So overall, his first half of the season has been exciting and one that makes the decision by Sauber to keep him easy to understand. The pairing of Kobayashi and Perez is now confirmed for 2012, a shrewd move by Sauber as even though their rookie has missed out on two races, his maturity and presence of mind should pave the way for an exciting evolution of Sauber through this season and next.

10 Responses to “Half Term Report: Sergio Perez”
  1. tomtoma2z says:

    I’ve really enjoyed watching Perez drive for Sauber this year, he’s a combination of his team mate Kamui Kobayashi and Jenson Button: managing to overtake regularly and still drive smooth. I think it can’t be long Perez gets to drive for Ferrari replacing Massa but Ferrari will probably want to give him a few years to gain experience before they take him on. I too blog on F1 and have a blog at http://theformula1formula.wordpress.com. I’ll make sure I come back to your site regularly as it seems interesting and very well written. Thomas Upton, 15.

    • rookief1 says:

      I completely agree, I think if Perez can continue driving the way he does he’ll be around for while. I’m particularly impressed that he’s been able to do a couple of race with one pit stop, like you said, a touch of Jenson Button there. You’re blog really good, I like the ‘6 word sum up’, clever idea!

  2. tomtoma2z says:

    Thanks. I’d like to say the 6 word sum up was my idea but I got it from the Times sport section on their preview of the Premiership. Perez’s only problem with the Ferrari seat is Bianchi who too is in the Ferrari driver academy and is currently 3rd in the GP2 and is a few years younger.

    • rookief1 says:

      As much as it pains me to say this, I don’t see Massa sticking around too much longer in Ferrari, so by the time Perez is fully up to speed he may slip in there. Bianchi, although, is a interesting prospect for the future, but I can’t see Ferrari wanting to risk it with a rookie.

  3. tomtoma2z says:

    It’s a shame about Massa he’s been my favourite since he started with Ferrari and since the crash he just hasn’t been the same. I see you went to the JB in Manchester day, I live not far off from Manchester (about 30mins) but had already planned to go to the south coast to see my uncle and cycle the isle of wight. was it good?

    • rookief1 says:

      I think Massa could do well with another team, with the pressure off, although it would be sad to see him leave Ferrari. Manchester was so much fun, well worth the trip so I’ll be keeping my eye out for something similar. Although a cycle around IOW sounds great, hope you had better weather!

  4. tomtoma2z says:

    he would suit Sauber and he’s already had experience there, but I doubt he really needs to even carry on once he’s left Ferrari as he’ll have a huge bank account. I heard the weather wasn’t great but it seems the publicity stunt worked, there were of of people there. Yeah the IOW was great and the weather was nice.

  5. tomtoma2z says:

    i’ve left a link from my blog to yours and was wondering if you’d could do the same please

  6. tomtoma2z says:

    thank you so much

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