Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The Next Generation - Sergio Perez

The obvious choice. At only 22, he is easily the youngest driver to be in the big three (Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull) for next season, and as such has a great chance so early in his career to prove himself as the leader of the next generation.

Perez impressed during karting, regularly being the youngest in the field and finishing on the podium, and then destroyed the formula three (national class - older chassis) field in 2007, finishing all but two races on the podium, and two thirds of the Grand Prix, and finished 4th in the international class. After gaining some experience in GP2 Asia, Perez started GP2 proper and finished the season 12th overall, with 2 podiums to his name, narrowly beating his team mate. In only his second season he finished 2nd overall, only behind the much more experience Pastor Maldanado, and comfortably ahead of the chasing pack, with 5 wins and 2 additional podiums to his name, and he secured a drive with Sauber for the next season of F1.

Now this is where it gets interesting, in only his first race he finished in the points, and was the only driver to have only one stop (something which became a speciality of his), however the Saubers were disqualified over a technicality, he eventually scored his  first points in race 5 in Spain, beating his team mate home to finish 9th. After a scary crash in Monaco, the rest of his season was solid, if unspectacular, which is good for a début season, and eventually finished 16th in the driver's standing, in what was officially the 7th fastest car, showing perhaps a bit of disappointment for the young Mexican, who ended up comprehensively beaten by his more experience team-mate Kamui Kobayashi.

However, if there was a tinge of regret about his first season, he put it behind him with a stellar performance so far this season. Perez has scored in 7 of the 16 races so far, including 3 excellent podiums. A great ability in the wet shone through when he finished 2nd behind Alonso in a changeable Malaysian Grand Prix, and he followed that with podiums in Canada and Monza. However, in both these races a better strategy than those around him seem to help him more than his talent. In Canada, dodgy strategy for Alonso and Vettel cost them, and in Monza a poor qualifying performance meant a great strategy call gave him an excellent end to the race.

Perez has been given a very good chance to perform to show off his talent with a drive at McLaren for 2013, but personally I have my doubts. He seems very inconsistent, and his recent performances in Japan and Korea shows he still has much to learn. A future winner? Undoubtedly. A future champion? I wouldn't think so. Perez needs to develop more abilities than just the ability to preserve his tyres.

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