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.

2013 F1 season


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

  1. 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.

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

    Enter Kovalainen. Somewhere.

  3. 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!!

  4. 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.

    • Jason (@jason12) said on 28th September 2012, 19:23

      Ferrari made a very good decison here (not falling for the recent/unqualified hype around Perez), they’ve got bigger fish to fry.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

    http://sportinglife.aol.co.uk/other-sports/news/article/22892/8118369/whitmarsh-perez-deal-broadens-mclaren-appeal

    • Jason (@jason12) said on 28th September 2012, 19:49

      Feels like the decision to reduce ‘Britishness’ was made a long time ago.
      Reducing Lewis’ salary was probably a deliberate move then, to achieve just that.

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

  9. 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

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

    what a shame for Ferrari

  11. Nickpkr said on 28th September 2012, 20:09

    Perez is finally going to get a descent qualifier of car, if he can start on top 5 no one can catch him !

    At two seasons full Ferrari & Sauber know how, and about to get the Mclaren hard drive too, only Hamilton can stop him but not in a dog car, Perez has bit everyone in track already, a few times actually and in a Sauber……

  12. Eddie (@wackyracer) said on 28th September 2012, 20:19

    What if Montezemolo is right?

  13. The problem of Ferrari not related with drivers, actually they have the best driver for now.
    If they can produce a car close to top runners Alonso and Massa (or another driver) are good enough to win both titles.

    It is better for Perez to team up with Button than Alonso. Perez is a good choice for Mclaren but no one can ignore to lost Hamilton was a big blow for them.

  14. davidnotcoulthard said on 29th September 2012, 0:18

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

    Isn’t that what Ferrari did with Gilles Villeneuve? How did he turn out?

    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.

    Quite an irony when we look at the 1982 pairing…………….

  15. Michael Brown (@) said on 29th September 2012, 1:20

    Perez is on a similar path to Kimi Raikkonen: spends some time at Sauber, shows what he’s got at McLaren, and then gets picked up by Ferrari when he has the experience.

    Here’s a wild guess: Alonso is contracted to Ferrari until 2016, so Ferrari allowed McLaren to take Perez so he can get the experience he needs for Ferrari, then sign him a year or two before Alonso leaves after 2016. Of course I’m assuming Alonso will leave Ferrari after 2016 or retire.

  16. Ae you mexican? Perez hasn’t shown much speed. He has had good results because of the strategy he has used.kobayashi has beat him regularly in qualifying and since perez has been quite slow in qualifying it has allowed perez to choose his tires and race strategy. Perez has never shown he is fast under the same circumstances to other drivers. Perez is overrated. Divresta should have been the driver mclaren should had chosen. Instead the factor $ came into account when they decided to hired the mexican driver. The good thing is that next year we will be able to see how good or bad perez is! We will becable to compare him with button and hamilton will have to eat all the bitching, bad words, etc that he said Nd did to mclaren . Hamilton will have to spent years fighting in the middle of the pack and mark my words! He is going to regret having left mclaren and nit having taken advantage of the fact that mclaren gave him the best and second best car in all of his f1 seasons. He is going to eat the humble pie.

  17. I’m not sure I see Perez as potential WDC material- yet anyway. He’s had some standout drives this season, but is quite inconsistent and his qualifying pace isn’t brilliant. Perez is flavour of the season, but the atmosphere and expectations in a frontrunning team are very different to those at Sauber (just ask Heinz-Harald Frentzen) and he might struggle with those. I’d have taken Di Resta, personally. He’s incredibly levelheaded and intelligent, probably faster over 1 lap than the Mexican and makes less mistakes (in fact I can’t remember ever seeing Di Resta throw the car off the road or crash into anyone, which is phenomenal for someone with his limited F1 experience). He’s also previously won a championship in a Mercedes powered car. Both are part of the triumvirate of the most impressive up and coming drivers (along wit Maldonado) but I think Di Resta should have edged it. I hope I’m wrong though and I’d love to see Sergio do a Lewis in his first season with a top team.

  18. Tayyib (@m0nzaman) said on 29th September 2012, 12:12

    Ferrari will regret this I believe Checco is the natural successor to fernando within that team and is the current MAN in the ferrari young driver programme, Massa has been poor for a while now and annoyingly I dont think they will replace him, but I really wonder if Seb will go to ferrari as a neutral it will be amazing but it dont sound like ferrari to have two lead drivers if you like.

    If fernando sanctions the only reason I think is beacuse he doont rate seb as highly as he does lewis, i think fernando knows he can beat vettel.

  19. Ron Dennis never failed to pick up his driver,neither did he did this time around,Ferrari just lost it.

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