Perez gets his big chance – but not with Ferrari

2013 F1 season

Sergio Perez, Ferrari, Fiorano, 2011Having lost Lewis Hamilton to Mercedes, McLaren wasted no time singing up Sergio Perez to take his place.

The 22-year-old Sauber driver has racked up three podium finishes in his second season. And on more than one occasion he’s come close to ending Mexico’s 42-year wait for a Grand Prix winner.

Arguably he should have won the second race of the year in Malaysia, but for a conservative final pit stop which cost him time on a drying track, and a costly mistake while hunting down winner Fernando Alonso.

Earlier this month he finished second to Hamilton at Monza having ripped through the field from 12th on the grid, passing both Ferraris on his way to finishing second.

But following this drive Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo poured cold water on suggestions Perez could join his team. For the second time this year di Montezemolo insisted Perez, who joined Ferrari’s drive academy in 2010, was insufficiently experienced to drive for Ferrari.

“Next season is too early,” he said, adding: “To put a young guy to Ferrari with the pressure of Ferrari, you need more experience.”

McLaren clearly don’t feel Perez lacks the experience to drive for them having snatched him from under the nose of their bitterest rival. In the press release announcing Perez’s arrival, Martin Whitmarsh praised Perez’s “string of giant-killing performances, trio of podiums and brilliant fastest lap in this year?s Monaco Grand Prix that showed us that Sergio lacks nothing in terms of speed and commitment”.

His performances have not gone unnoticed by F1 Fanatic readers either, who have voted him Driver of the Weekend three times in his 31-race career (twice so far this year, once last year).

Perez gushed with enthusiasm for his new team on Twitter: “McLaren is the best place to be in the world of F1!” he said, thanking Whitmarsh: “for his faith he had on me and all the McLaren family”.

Sergio Perez, Ferrari, Fiorano, 2011Graciously, he also admitted a debt of thanks to those who had not quite as much faith in him, a few hours later.

It goes without saying that being signed by a team as successful as McLaren is a considerable vote of confidence in Perez’s abilities.

McLaren’s mantra when it comes to hiring drivers, recently reiterated by group chairman Ron Dennis, is to sign the best two available drivers. Given who was available after Hamilton had made his decision to join Mercedes, it’s hard to argue they haven’t done that here.

With Perez out of the picture, it is unclear who Ferrari might turn to as a replacement for Felipe Massa. Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg might offer the requisite blend of potential and appetite for success, but neither has significantly more F1 experience than Perez.

Michael Schumacher returning to his old team is a romantic but surely fanciful notion.

The signs increasingly point to Massa staying put, perhaps as a seat-warmer for one year until Sebastian Vettel exercises his rumoured option to join Fernando Alonso at the team in 2014.

The idea of Ferrari as a team of two number one drivers, both multiple-champions, is an exciting one, though not one that tallies with their history of preferring a strong number one and a solid back-up driver.

And retaining Massa even on a short-term basis may prove undesirable. Mired in a shocking season, he’s scored barely more than a quarter of Alonso’s points haul so far.

What Ferrari need is a new Massa – a fresh young driver who’s had a few years in a Ferrari-powered Sauber and done a spot of testing in a pukka prancing horse. The problem is, he’s just signed for McLaren.

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118 comments on Perez gets his big chance – but not with Ferrari

  1. Jason (@jason12) said on 28th September 2012, 16:49

    Yes Perez takes good care of his tyres from outside the top-10, but he’s no match for Button.
    JB will definitely be no.1 at Mclaren.

    • True – it stands to reason that the first season will have Perez learning from and following Button as the new team leader, but considering the promise he’s shown so far in his career, Sergio could very well take over the reins as the #1 driver in McLaren in a few seasons.

  2. Anyone read Will Buxton’s post on his personal blog regarding the silly season? Though it sounds crazy at first, he makes a pretty sound argument for why Ferrari didn’t take Perez – they are waiting for Vettel to arrive in 2014!

  3. Carlitox (@carlitox) said on 28th September 2012, 17:23

    Do you know that feeling when you predict something and you don’t tell anyone but then it happens and nobody believes you predicted it? That’s exactly how I feel.

    Good move for him, he is guaranteed with fine machinery and fair competition. Raikkonen in 2002, anyone?

  4. Jason (@jason12) said on 28th September 2012, 17:29

    Mclaren’s options were Kimi, Di Resta, Nico H, Grasjean, hey maybe even Maldonaldo :D.
    Has Perez shown better promise than all of the above?

    • Kimi4WDC said on 28th September 2012, 17:30

      Would have been so amazing to have Maldonado in that McLaren…geeee. I can just see Button crying in the corner every race :)

    • yes @jason12, because Di Resta and Hulkenberg haven’t got a podium yet this year.
      Because Maldonado, despite winning a race, is barely above Senna, who in my opinion is better than Maldonado in CONSISTENCY for points
      grosjean is still a crash kid
      Kimi (I’m fan of him but) can get that promising victory the people are waiting for. And who knows how that McLaren – Kimi relation ended
      And you can say Perez hasn’t won either, but is more balanced, I mean, he is regularly on the big points, he has overshadowed Kobayashi many times during the race, and he has (don’t forget that) BIG SPONSORS

      So yes, he was the best option available

      • artificial racer said on 28th September 2012, 19:40

        The only part of that which is really relevant is the sponsorship. The Sauber has clearly been a faster car overall than the Force India. Maldonado is pretty hard to understand.

  5. Yes, this is possible to be a BIG dejavu. Raikkonen and Perez…
    – started in Sauber
    -went to Mc Laren
    – I hope I’m wrong, but i can’t see Perez as a Mc Laren champion, but yes he will win a bunch of times
    Ferrari might understand (later, remember how young Perez is) he can drive a Ferrari. Imagine if Vettel champions or Red Bull in 2013. Would he move to Ferrari? Probably not. So Ferrari can take the Perez option in 2014, and wwho knows, as Raikkonen, he can become a red champion.

    Let see if all this happens or i’m just day dreaming

  6. As both a Ferrari and Perez fan I’m utterly confused why they failed to sign him. Are they really pinning their hopes of Vettel signing for them in 2014 because, correct me if I’m wrong here, Vettel has shown almost no interest in leaving Red Bull. In fact he seems to be very loyal to them, just as Red Bull is very loyal to him.

    However Ferraris loss is McLarens gain and even though I’m not big fan of McLaren I wish Sergio all the best there. Ferrari will be kicking themselves next season if he turns out to be every bit as good as MW says he is.

  7. electrolite (@electrolite) said on 28th September 2012, 17:56

    Enter Kovalainen. Somewhere.

  8. Laura (@laurapa202) said on 28th September 2012, 18:03

    Does Perez remind anyone else of a young Ayrton Senna? His story, attitude and ambition make me think this move is going to be the start of something great!!

  9. MahavirShah (@mahavirshah) said on 28th September 2012, 18:46

    I know Perez is quite talented and certainly a good racer. I would rate him miles higher than some of the other hypes such as Ricciardo and Pastor and to a large extent Di Resta as well. The trouble is that most of his great performances have been when he was able to preserve the tyres to such an extent that he was doing strategies that were almost impossible to fathom. Yet, I think that a lot of this was possible due to the Sauber car in addition to the Perez skill. I wouldn’t like to predict how he would do at McLaren and do hope that he does well but a good part of me says that the same level of brilliant drives might not be there. He will score points and maybe a good number of podiums but at the same time he will be racing alongisde the best drivers of our time on a very consistent basis.

  10. William Brierty said on 28th September 2012, 19:10

    “Tooned” is gonna look a bit different from now on. Actually thinking about it, this is a branding disaster from the formerly “all-British” team.

  11. My prediction was spot on! Well for Perez, a great deal with McLaren – team that has produced champions. Well I personally am a bit puzzled seeing the potential legendary driver of my time – Lewis Hamilton- going on a downward slope opposite to his predecessors!! Changing trends I guess!

  12. Bernard (@bernard) said on 28th September 2012, 19:24

    McLaren have apparently signed Perez for the money and to dilute McLaren’s “Britishness” (again for money), not because he’s ‘the best available’ as was suggested in recent interviews.

  13. Little offtopic, but the car on the picture is beautiful. Is it the F2010? Best post-2009 car built!

  14. Jason (@jason12) said on 28th September 2012, 19:38

    If McLaren re-brands to silver + Telemex’s colours, it’ll look quite similar to the Merc :D

  15. charles (@charles) said on 28th September 2012, 19:52

    what a shame for Ferrari

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