Tag Archives: Sergio Perez

2013 half-way driver rankings: 13th – 5th

In the second of 3 articles, I rank this season’s drivers according to how I felt they performed so far this year.

This section deals with drivers from teams like Toro Rosso all the way up to Red Bull. Let’s start with driver #13…

13th – Mark Webber

Previous ranking: 12th

Previous quote: “Despite his protests, he is the perfect number 2 driver to partner Vettel.”

Another disappointing season for Mark Webber looks to be on the cards, although this one will certainly be his last. After the events of Malaysia, I doubt he will ever win another race again.

It’s true that he has faced his usual share of bad luck. Issues like two botched pit stops in China and Germany have been well documented, but at the end of the day, at no point has Mark ever challenged for victory this year. His two podiums in Monaco and Silverstone came only because of the misfortune of others, particularly in the latter case.

Even more worryingly, he hasn’t finished in front of Sebastian Vettel at any point in 2013 – in qualifying or the race. There is a point where you cannot keep blaming bad luck or a rogue teammate, but it seems as if the message was lost on Webber.

Mark’s regular post-race whinge will be absent next year, to be replaced by infrequent sniping at the state of F1, and how it was so much better in the good old days, etc etc. I can’t say that I’m looking forward to it.

12th – Jean-Eric Vergne

Previous ranking: 21st

Previous quote: “Toro Rosso will now overlook him while they search for Mark Webber’s eventual replacement in the future.”

While I correctly called that Vergne would be overlooked for the Red Bull seat, I didn’t predict the improvement that we’d see in the Toro Rosso teammates. Like Riccardo, Jean-Eric has grown into a rather solid and dependable driver, without any loss in speed.

While he has been annihilated in qualifying by an embarrassing margin, Vergne has made up for it in the races, never finishing any lower than 12th, excluding DNFs. Compare this to Daniel Ricciardo, who has finished lower than 12th 4 times already, and the Frenchman’s consistency is clear to see.

A fantastic race weekend in Canada is undoubtedly the highlight of his year so far, out-pacing most of the field apart from the top 3 teams. However, his Webber-esque qualifying performances do him no good whatsoever, and tends to blight his race weekends before they’ve gotten properly underway.

I’m disappointed that he’s been passed over for being Webber’s replacement, but I’m confident that Vergne will be able to improve with Toro Rosso for years to come.

11th – Sergio Perez

Previous ranking: 10th

Previous quote: “A poor end to 2012 signals that Perez may not be completely ready for his big break.”

At the start of the 2013 season, it seemed as though my fears were confirmed. Struggling to get to grips with the car, Perez only broke into Q3 once in the first 4 races. However, an impressive turnaround has shown a vast improvement by Checo, much to the displeasure of his teammate.

I mention this because as the season continues, we are treated to more and more inter-McLaren duels, most of which end with Perez in front and Button fuming over the radio. Enjoyable as it is to watch, it also shows that Sergio is threatening to out-pace Jenson after only 10 races in the team – not a bad feat at all.

But his season has already taken some downturns, not least at Monaco. Despite some rather ambitious and impressive overtakes, Perez soon got over-enthusiastic, and clashed with Kimi Raikkonen as a result. That aside though, with the midfield machinery at his disposal, it’s been a relatively impressive start to his McLaren career.

10th – Adrian Sutil

Previous ranking: N/A

Previous quote: N/A

A year’s absence has surely hurt Sutil’s hopes of progressing up the grid, but he’s still doing a respectable job in the Force India in 2013.

Superb drives in Australia and Monaco have been his highlights so far, and out-pacing Sebastian Vettel in the middle stint at Melbourne was no mean feat either. There’s little to choose between the two Force India drivers in general, but where Sutil seems to excel at is qualifying. He has broken into Q3 5 times already this year, compared to just 2 for Paul di Resta.

Unfortunately, the VJM06 is proving to be extremely difficult to handle on the new Kevlar-belted tyres, and this could hurt Sutil’s chances badly going into the second half of 2013.

9th – Paul di Resta

Previous ranking: 13th

Previous quote: “He has the talent to push for podiums in a midfield car.”

Barely missing out on a podium in Bahrain, Di Resta has certainly had good moments this season. Unfortunately, an apparently deteriorating relationship between him and his team isn’t helping matters.

Three ruined qualifying sessions in 4 race weekends was the focal point of this issue, where Paul blasted Force India’s strategies and criticised the team heavily. He and his race engineer have had their fair share of spats, with several team radio clips highlighting the issues within the team.

All of which has overshadowed Di Resta’s impressive streak of points-scoring finishes in 2013. Between China and Britain, he finished in the points 6 times in a row, even after being dropped to the back of the grid in some occasions.

But a worrying drop-off in pace in Hungary spells what may be a drastic loss in form going into the second half of the season for Di Resta.

8th – Jenson Button

Previous ranking: 7th

Previous quote: “It will be interesting to see how he fares as a team leader at McLaren – it can go either brilliantly or disastrously.”

An embarassing loss of form after 2012 has dropped McLaren to competing with Force India for 5th place in the constructor’s championship. But Button has appeared to be unfazed by this change of fortunes, and has driven well in such poor circumstances.

Twice this season he has competed for podiums amongst clearly superior cars, in both Malaysia and Germany. A botched pit stop foiled the former, while backmarkers ruined the latter. Nevertheless, Jenson has dealt with 2013 remarkably well, taking consistent points for the team in most races.

His feud with Sergio Perez has been entertaining, but he seems to have the upper hands in terms of overall points and consistency. With McLaren on a slow mend, a podium this year certainly isn’t out of the question.

7th – Daniel Ricciardo

Previous ranking: 20th

Previous quote: “Another mundane season in the lower midfield will effectively end his career.”

After what I felt was a disappointing 2012, Riccardo has evolved into one of the most promising drivers in recent years, threatening to take the Red Bull seat over Kimi Raikkonen, of all drivers.

As well as domination over his teammate in qualifying, Daniel has often out-performed most of the grid on Saturdays. Breaking into Q3 5 times out of 10 races, he has struggled to turn most of these into points-scoring finishes, but his raw pace is certainly notable.

7th in both qualifying and the race in China put him ahead of Romain Grosjean, and he missed out on a fantastic result at Silverstone after his team made the wrong strategy call. Ricciardo has been stellar in the Toro Rosso, but the question is whether he can perform well enough to take the Red Bull spot for 2014.

It would be almost impossible to score a win in his current car – to replicate Vettel’s Monza 2008 victory – but more consistent points-scoring finishes should seal the deal for 2014.

6th – Nico Hulkenberg

Previous ranking: 5th

Previous quote: “Hulkenberg has done his career the best possible boost. A switch to Sauber may be viewed as a move sideways, but I think it might just pay off.”

Despite an ill-timed switch, Hulkenberg has still proven that he is one of the most exciting talents on the Formula 1 grid.

After the first 4 races, he had led the most laps out of any driver, a stellar achievement given what a poor car the Sauber C32 is. In terms of race finishes, all Nico has been able to do is drag his car into the points, but this is still head and shoulders above what Esteban Gutierrez has managed.

It is clear that he has excelled in situations where other cars have chewed their tyres up. He started on the medium tyres in China, picking off Red Bulls and McLarens before later dropping back. However, when the Sauber burns out his tyres, he is completely helpless, like in Monaco.

The switch to Kevlar-belted tyres seems to have given Sauber a little boost, so I expect to see Hulkenberg continue to impress throughout 2013.

5th – Nico Rosberg

Previous ranking: 6th

Previous quote: “A disastrous end to the season for Mercedes has held back Nico from performing better.”

After 3 seasons of beating Michael Schumacher, Rosberg was still treated with suspicion as to the extent of his driving talent. The fact that he has squared up to – and sometimes beaten – Lewis Hamilton has surely alleviated these worries.

Two emphatic wins are his highlights so far, but both came with plenty of luck. In Monaco, he was able to back up the entire grid throughout the race without being passed – a feat impossible anywhere else. And the win in Silverstone dropped into his lap after Hamilton’s tyres exploded and Vettel retired.

Still, he has been rather impressive this year, almost always on Hamilton’s pace, but he has taken the brunt of Mercedes’ poor reliability so far. He was instructed to hold off passing Lewis in Malaysia, which didn’t help his points tally, but surely improved his standing within the team.

However, as Hamilton becomes increasingly comfortable in the W04, we may see Rosberg being outperformed more and more often.

Top 10: Overtakes of the 2012 season

Like the previous year, 2012 was a fantastic season for overtaking. Without further ado, let’s have a look at the best passes of the 2012 season:

10th – Sergio Perez on Lewis Hamilton, Japanese Grand Prix

Perez eliminated himself from the Suzuka race later on with an ill-judged pass on Hamilton at the same corner. But his first move was brave, albeit slightly clumsy.

The Sauber came from miles behind at the Turn 11 hairpin, threw his car into the corner, and just about made it stick.

9th – Lewis Hamilton on both Toro Rossos, Spanish Grand Prix

An overtaking article wouldn’t be complete without Lewis Hamilton. Recovering from a disastrous 2011 season, he immediately set out to prove that he is one of the finest drivers on the grid.

Arguably his best pass was on Ricciarado and Vergne in quick succession in Barcelona:

8th – Kimi Raikkonen on Nico Hulkenberg, Grand Prix of America

Nico Hulkenberg performed admirably in the second half of 2012. But he was left completely helpless when Kimi made a ruthless move around the outside in Austin.

Passes like these are very underrated – the sheer level of bravery and confidence required is unparalleled.

7th – Romain Grosjean on Lewis Hamilton, European Grand Prix

Despite the (justified) criticism of Grosjean’s antics this year, he remains a fiesty racer when the opportunity arises.

His best move of the year was this ballsy pass on Hamilton, where he refused to budge and forced the McLaren off the racing line.

6th – Fernando Alonso on Romain Grosjean, European Grand Prix

Before this season, who would have guessed that the Valencia street circuit would throw up one of the best races of 2012?

Another great pass from that race was Fernando Alonso’s incredible move around the outside of turn 1. It’s even tougher than it looks –  the exit barriers of that corner close in rapidly, so even a few kp/h too many, and you’re in the wall.

5th – Kimi Raikkonen on Paul di Resta, German Grand Prix

Raikkonen spent several laps behind the Force India before he made a proper attempt to overtake. But it was well worth it.

After attempting to undercut Di Resta exiting the Spitzherhe, he dived around the outside of the following corner, and muscled his way through.

4th – Kimi Raikkonen on Michael Schumacher, Brazilian Grand Prix

Raikkonen and Schumacher were back to their old antics in Brazil. At the same corner, Raikkonen squeezed past Michael on the race of his first retirement in 2006.

This time though, it was around the outside, and not a millimetre of space was shared between the two. Just look at that photo, and that tells you everything you need to know.

3rd – Kimi Raikkonen on Michael Schumacher, Belgian Grand Prix

As you can tell, I’ve hugely enjoyed Raikkonen’s performances this year. He’s been absolutely outstanding all year – but more on that in another post.

This time, he bravely shot down the inside of Schumacher’s Mercedes entering Eau Rouge. It wasn’t as brilliant as Mark Webber’s similar move last year, but still very commendable.

2nd – Felipe Massa on Bruno Senna, Singapore Grand Prix

After a miserable start to the season, Massa picked up his game hugely.

The first sign of Felipe’s comeback was in Singapore, where an incredible slice up the inside of Bruno Senna netted him an extra place. Bonus marks go for the dramatic slide entering the corner. Awesome stuff.

1st – Nico Hulkenberg on Lewis Hamilton & Romain Grosjean, Korean Grand Prix

While the Korean Grand Prix wasn’t a standout race, it brought one of my favourite passes from one of the best upcoming drivers on the grid.

Hulkenberg has been brilliant in the final few races of 2012, and this move was icing on the cake. After waltzing past Grosjean, he proceeded to barge his way alongside Hamilton, and then shoved his way past entering the next corner. Brilliantly calculated, and fantastic to watch – a classic overtake.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many videos of the pass online. This is the best I could come up with.

Perez states that Esteban Gutierrez will join Sauber in 2013

Sauber driver Sergio Perez has jumped the gun on his team’s driver announcement for 2013 this weekend, and let slip that Esteban Gutierrez is set to be signed for the team for next year.

Before this weekend, Sauber had confirmed that they would make their driver announcement after the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday.

However, in the driver’s press conference today, Perez noted that “the team have a good experienced driver in Nico [Hulkenberg] and he will have a strong team-mate in Esteban [Gutierrez].”

He then stated: “we are waiting for the announcement”.

Gutierrez has already driven for Sauber this year, taking the place of Perez in Friday practice in India. He has previously won GP3 and Formula BMW Europe championships, and took 3rd this year in the GP2 series with ART.

Sergio Perez confirmed to replace Lewis Hamilton at McLaren

On the same day that Lewis Hamilton has announced his move to Mercedes, it has been confirmed that Sergio Perez will replace his role at the McLaren team.

Perez leaped into the sport in 2011, instantly taking it by storm. Three podium finishes this year has confirmed him as a “giant killer”, according to McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh:

"On behalf of everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, I’m delighted to welcome 
Sergio on board. His performances throughout 2012 have convinced us that he’s an 
extremely exciting prospect for the future.

It was a string of giant-killing performances, a trio of podiums and a brilliant 
fastest lap in this year’s Monaco Grand Prix that showed us that Sergio lacks 
nothing in terms of speed and commitment.

We’ve been monitoring his progress carefully for some months – and, now that he’s 
become part of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team, our task will be to refine and 
develop his abilities as his career progresses over the coming years.

Uniting Sergio alongside Jenson will give us a very broad base of driver ability. 
Jenson is one of motorsport’s greatest ambassadors, and his unique blend of 
prodigious speed and canny race-craft makes him formidably well-armed to fight for 
victory on any Grand Prix circuit in the world. While Sergio is still developing his 
palette of skills, we’re convinced that he’s not only talented and quick, but also 
that he’s willing and eager to learn.”

He’s perfectly poised to develop into a world championship challenger. His addition 
to the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team provides us with the perfect two-pronged driver 
line-up for the new season."

Whitmarsh also praised Lewis Hamilton for his services to the team:

"Finally, it’s entirely appropriate that I should take this opportunity to pass on our 
thanks to Lewis. He wrote a huge chapter of his life and career with us, and was, and 
always will be, a fine member of an exclusive club: the McLaren world champions’ club.

It goes without saying that we all wish him well for the future, just as it also goes 
without saying that we hope and believe that Sergio, too, will become a member of that 
exclusive club before too long."

Unsurprisingly, Perez was delighted to be joining a frontrunning team:

"I’m thrilled and delighted to have become a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver.

The McLaren name is one of the greatest in the history of Formula 1. For more than 40 
years McLaren has been a team that every racing driver has aspired to drive for – I was 
brought up on the great stories of Ayrton Senna’s many world championship triumphs for 
McLaren – and I’m truly honoured that they’ve chosen me to partner Jenson from 2013 
onwards.”

I’d like to thank Carlos Slim Jr, who has helped me since I was 14 years old, without 
whom I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Our journey together over the past eight years has been an incredible one, and I’ll do 
everything in my power to deliver with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes the results that he 
and I have been working so hard and so long to achieve together.

As I say, I’ve worked very hard to get to this stage in my career, and I’m now massively 
looking forward to this next even more exciting stage. It’s fantastic that all the 
sacrifices I’ve made are now paying off.

For example, I remember very clearly the first day I left my family, when I was 15, to 
live in Germany to race in Formula BMW. It was tough for me – I was sleeping in a 
restaurant at that time – but the dream of one day becoming a Formula 1 driver kept me 
going through those difficult days.

Finally, I’d like to thank my beloved family, who’ve encouraged me at every turn, and 
last but far from least the people of Mexico, my home country, whose magnificent support 
I’ll do my very best to reward with future successes with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes."

 

2012 half-way driver rankings: 14th – 8th

In the second of 4 posts, I will judge the 2012 drivers based on their performances so far this season.

Drivers knocked out in Q1 (so to speak) included Felipe Massa, Daniel Ricciardo and Pastor Maldonado. Here is the second round, including a few more big names…

Nothing massively convincing from Senna, but still better than Maldonado

Nothing massively convincing from Senna, but still better than Maldonado

14th: Bruno Senna

Previous ranking: 17th out of 28

Review from previous ranking: “Bruno’s impact has been unconvincing to say the least.”

It might seem a surprise to put Senna ahead of his more celebrated teammate, but the small gap in the points standings is more than compensated by considerably more intelligent driving.

In only his second race for Williams, he stormed through the field in treacherous conditions to finish 6th. He inherited points-scoring positions after teammate Maldonado was handed post-race penalties.

Despite this, a lack of raw pace is apparent. He has only out-qualified Maldonado 3 times, with an average deficit of over half a second. While Pastor stormed to victory in Spain, he had crashed out in qualifying and retired from the race. He has only reached Q3 once, compared to the Venezuelan’s 7 times.

At the end of the day though, if you were to ignore the one-off result in Barcelona, then Senna has performed much better against Maldonado than many would have thought. Also, Bruno hasn’t been involved in half the accidents, and still spends the majority of his racing laps ahead of his teammate. Rather quietly, he is the more complete driver of the Williams team.

A decent start from Hulkenberg

A decent start from Hulkenberg

13th: Nico Hulkenberg

Previous ranking: 11th out of 27 (2010 final)

Review from previous ranking: “Several poor showings may not have helped him, but nevertheless I would have thought that Nico should have stayed on [with Williams].”

After a rather pointless year out of the sport, Nico Hulkenberg is back, and has already proved himself a worthy adversary to last year’s hotshot rookie Paul di Resta.

Judging by the stats, both drivers are incredibly well matched. Neither has the edge in either qualifying or race results, although Di Resta has been able to achieve slightly higher finishing positions on times, which has given him the lead on points.

Hulkenberg’s finishing positions, while not dramatic in any way, are still more consistent though, and this is a considerable advantage to have. On more than a few occasions Nico has finished in 11th or 12th places, so with a bit of luck he could have closed up the 10-point gap between the two.

So far, it is almost too close to call, but I think that Paul has a slight edge over Nico at the moment. However, this could change at any time, and I am looking forward to see how the young German retaliates in the second half of 2012.

It's been a mix of highs and lows for Button

It’s been a mix of highs and lows for Button

12th: Jenson Button

Previous ranking: 3rd out of 28

Review from previous ranking: “The balance of power ha[s] shifted at McLaren, and Button is now comfortably ahead of his teammate in all areas.”

To say “how things change” doesn’t begin to analyse Button’s predicament – his on/off season has shown that even the best drivers can be thrown off course.

Yes, it is very easy to point out his crushing win in Melbourne, or his return to form in Germany, but his atrocious form a quarter way through the season says it all. In some races, Jenson was displaying Felipe Massa levels of rubbish. In Monaco for example, a complete drop-off in pace allowed him to be humiliated by Kovalainen’s Caterham.

This complete lack of pace continued on into Canada, where he qualified 10th and finished 16th. In his home race, he was unable to make any impact on the frontrunners, only barely scraping a point.

It’s hard to believe that this is the same driver who cakewalked the first 7 races of 2009. He has only out-qualified teammate Hamilton twice, and only by sheer pace once. The gap between them in qualifying is nearly half a second, which demonstrates how off the ball he has become.

We know that Button can demolish the entire field when he is on form. The problem is that his driving style simply doesn’t suit the 2012 Pirelli tyre compounds, which require high tyre temperatures through the corners. Jenson’s smooth entry and exit into corners means that his McLaren simply slides around the racetrack.

It’s a harsh ranking, but I don’t think that so far in 2012 we can rank him amongst the high-level drivers.

Aside from Silverstone, remarkably consistent pace for Di Resta

Aside from Silverstone, remarkably consistent pace for Di Resta

11th: Paul di Resta

Previous ranking: 10th out of 28

Review from previous ranking: “It still amazes me that Paul di Resta is in only his first year in F1 – his form makes him look like an experienced veteran.”

Like 2011, Paul di Resta has shown unremarkable yet consistent pace, which has allowed him to creep up the driver’s standings.

As I said earlier, there is little between Di Resta and teammate Hulkenberg in either qualifying or the races, the only difference being is Paul’s higher finishing positions. Di Resta’s weakness seems to be his poor starts – so far he has lost 10 overall places on the first lap.

However, he has proven himself to be rather flexible with tyre strategies. This has allowed him to run 1-stop tyre strategies in several races so far, netting him 7th place in Valencia.

Points-wise, he still has a slight advantage over Hulkenberg, but a single race could change that. Therefore, Di Resta will still need to up his game through 2012 if he is to remain on top at Force India.

Kobayashi races as well as always

Kobayashi races as well as always

10th: Kamui Kobayashi

Previous ranking: 14th out of 28

Review from previous ranking: “Overall, it was a decent season, but improvement is still necessary.”

Like Senna, Kobayashi’s season has been rather overshadowed by the performances of his highly rated teammate. Still, Kamui has shown that he is a force to be reckoned with.

As always, he has proven himself to be able to battle with the big boys, as proven in Spain when he passed both Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg in daring moves. He once said “If I feel I can overtake I just do it” and this is as true as ever.

Despite teammate Perez taking much of Sauber’s glory in Malaysia, Kobayashi has out-qualified him more frequently. In qualifying, where Perez hasn’t gone better than 14th since Spain, Kamui has been able to break into Q3 three times so far this season – not bad for a midfield car.

Despite differing results, I would still regard both Sauber drivers as being nearly equals in talent. While Kamui doesn’t have a sixth sense for tyre management like Sergio does, he makes up for that with commendable pace and brave overtaking manouvers.

Rookie errors from a 43-year-old is unheard of in F1

Rookie errors from a 43-year-old is unheard of in F1

9th: Michael Schumacher

Previous ranking: 5th out of 28

Review from previous ranking: “It’s been more than improvement for Schumacher – he has seriously upped his game, and pushed Nico Rosberg in nearly every way”

After only a few races I began to feel very sorry for Michael Schumacher – this season’s woes have mostly been technical-related, and generally have been out of his hands. Generally.

The problem is that a 7-times world champion should not be making rookie errors. Slamming into Senna in Barcelona, and a howler of a mistake at the start in Hungary were the main examples.

Despite this, the 43-year-old is still showing promising pace. He took an excellent pole position in Monaco, took his first podium in 6 years in Valencia, and in many races has upsetted the established order. Mainly because of technical faults, he has been unable to mount a championship challenge.

Coupled with this, the Mercedes W03 car seems to be falling away from the frontrunners. With this, Schumacher may have to settle for aiming to catch up to his teammate, Nico Rosberg. So far, he has been on par with his fellow German, and has performed much better in recent races.

We may not see Michael after the 2012 season, so keep your eyes peeled, lest we see the return of the Schumacher of old.

Several fantastic drives has put Perez closer to a Ferrari drive

Several fantastic drives has put Perez closer to a Ferrari drive

8th: Sergio Perez

Previous ranking: 7th out of 28

Review from previous ranking: “The fact that he is already being lined up for a Ferrari drive is a signal of his prowess.”

In recent days, Sergio Perez has made his desire to drive for Ferrari clear. Does he deserve it? Absolutely.

Perez became one of my favourite drivers within a few races of 2011, and his admirable form has continued on to this season. Obviously, his best to drive to date came at Malaysia, where a fantastic drive nearly earned him his first Grand Prix victory.

Apart from this, he took another podium only 5 races later, and drove well in Germany to seal a great weekend for Sauber. He also recorded the fastest lap in Monaco, nearly 3 seconds faster than the frontrunners – although it must be noted that they were held up by a conservative Webber.

Compared to Kobayashi, Sergio has done well. They are neck-and-neck in terms of qualifying and race results, and Perez nips ahead due to having 14 more championship points.

The only downside so far is that his car has a magnetic attraction to Pastor Maldonado’s. This has resulted in two crashes so far this year, and has cost him several points. However, this is of no fault to Sergio, and he has performed admirably in a midfield car.

Perez penalised for impeding Raikkonen and Alonso

Sergio Perez will drop 5 places on the grid for tomorrow’s German Grand Prix.

The Sauber driver was found to have impeded both Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso during Q2. He finished the session 12th, but will now drop down to 17th position for the race.

The stewards stated that the penalty was imposed “due to the driver being involved in two similar offences in the same session.” After the incident with Raikkonen, the Lotus driver complained to his team over the pit radio.

Perez is the fourth driver to suffer a grid penalty this weekend. The other three are Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg and Romain Grosjean, all for unscheduled gearbox changes to their cars.

 

Maldonado handed penalty for deliberate crash

Maldonado swerved into the side of Perez to cause a deliberate crash

Maldonado swerved into the side of Perez to cause a deliberate crash

Pastor Maldonado has been docked 10 places on the grid for the Monaco Grand Prix.

The newest F1 race winner caused a deliberate crash in Saturday practice with Sergio Perez.

As Perez moved off the racing line to allow Pastor past, the Williams driver swerved and slammed into the side of the Sauber, causing damage to both cars. Maldonado crashed several corners later.

After a similar incident in Spa last year with Lewis Hamilton, the stewards have again punished Pastor for another needless crash.

This all but certainly rules him out of challenging for the win on Sunday.

 

Malaysian Grand Prix analysis: Victories for the underdogs

The Malaysian Grand Prix will go down as a thrilling and unforgettable race. Not just because of the shuffled order, or the heavy rain showers, but because of the fierce and spirited drives that put so many surprise faces on top. A brilliant drive from Sergio Perez, an unrelenting charge from Fernando Alonso, and a quiet ascent to 6th for Bruno Senna was what made this race special.

Perez – the man of the moment

Few will argue that Sergio Perez’s drive was anything but spectacular. A good strategy call at the start put him up to 3rd, and he held the position under treacherous conditions.

Once the track dried out, he demonstrated Button-like prowess on the damp track, eating into Alonso’s lead relentlessly. A poor final pit stop, as well as a slip near the end, cost him the victory, but he has still made his point.

It is the first time since 1971 that a Mexican driver has put a foot on the podium – the last time was for Pedro Rodriguez, 19 years before Sergio was even born.

With such a great performance, the top teams have surely taken a good look at the young Sauber driver. Which leads us to…

Massa bashing: Round 2

Another atrocious drive from Felipe Massa, another reason for Ferrari to ditch the beleaguered driver. And with Sergio Perez seemingly knocking on the door, the Brazilian surely won’t be around for too long.

As his teammate crossed the line to take the chequered flag, Massa was 5 seconds away from being lapped. He now sits 19th in the driver’s championship, behind the Marussias, while Alonso leads the title hunt. There’s no denying that the gap between the two is growing immeasurably long.

The Ferrari F2012 is a handful, but it deserves to be finishing higher than 15th place. I make no secret of my disliking of Massa, and his dismal performances only make this view worse.

Another side of Sebastian Vettel?

As the Red Bull team slip behind McLaren, we are now granted the opportunity to see how Vettel handles with not having the fastest car on the grid. Unfortunately, he hasn’t gotten off to the best start.

His clip into Narain Karthikeyan may seem insignificant, but it shows a very poor attitude from the German driver. He seemed to move across Narain’s path, then showed obscene gestures when his tyre blew as a result.

Afterwards, he referred to him as a “cucumber”, which is just about the oddest insult I’ve heard in a long time. It appears as if he hasn’t learned from Turkey 2010, when he refused to take responsibility for clashing with Mark Webber.

Granted, he’s not in the position he wants to be, but this is no excuse for his behaviour. A true driver’s colours are shown when he’s dealt a bad hand – just look at Fernando Alonso. Vettel appears rattled, and will need to cap his temper if he wants to claw his way back to the top.

Alonso wins while Perez shines in Malaysia

Hamilton fends off Button

Hamilton fends off Button

Fernando Alonso has won the Malaysian Grand Prix, ahead of a brilliant Sergio Perez, who drove his heart out and almost won the race. Lewis Hamilton again lost the lead and finished 3rd, while it was another poor show from Mercedes. Here is what happened:

Light rain 10 minutes before the start of the race forced all the cars to switch to the intermediate tyres. At the start, Lewis Hamilton held the lead against his teammate, while Romain Grosjean jumped into 3rd. Michael Schumacher spun at Turn 3, and fell to the back of the grid.

As the rain grew in intensity, Sergio Perez, Timo Glock and Felipe Massa opted to stop for extreme wets. Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso stopped on Lap 5 for the same tyres. Button’s passing of Schumacher on the wets prompted everyone else to make the change on Lap 6.

The safety car was out, but the red flag is soon thrown

The safety car was out, but the red flag is soon thrown

The different strategies left Perez 3rd, while Button harassed Hamilton for the lead. However, the rain had quickly become too heavy to continue, and the safety car was deployed on Lap 7. As lightning struck race control and the media centre, knocking out the power, there was some confusion about an accidental red flag.

Once it became clear that the monsoon conditions weren’t ending any time soon, the red flag was thrown. The teams bizarrely brought gazebos out on the pit straight, as the rain shower moved away.

After more than half an hour, the race was restarted under the safety car. Bernd Maylander peeled away on Lap 13, and the racing resumed. Several cars dived into the pits, while Sergio Perez moved into 2nd. Sebastian Vettel made a move on his teammate, but Webber used his superior traction to retake 5th place.

Hamilton stopped a lap later, but a slow pit stop dropped him behind his teammate. Button’s joy didn’t last long though, as he hit the back of Narain Karthikeyan’s HRT, breaking his front wing. He pitted for repairs, while Sergio Perez stopped for inters, leaving Fernando Alonso in charge of the race.

Daniel Ricciardo put an excellent move on Bruno Senna for 14th place, taking the Williams around the outside of Turn 5. DRS was enabled on Lap 21, allowing the battle for 5th place battle between Rosberg, Vettel and Raikkonen to take an extra twist.

Vettel powered past Nico Rosberg for 4th, and was soon followed by Kimi Raikkonen. Mark Webber didn’t need DRS to get past, slicing past Rosberg at Turn 6.

Felipe Massa was ordered to catch the Mercedes, but slipped wide instead, allowing Paul di Resta through for 7th. After he was swiftly passed by Jean-Eric Vergne Bruno Senna, he pitted for a new set of intermediates.

Perez gets within inches of Alonso

Perez gets within inches of Alonso

Kamui Kobayashi passed Michael Schumacher around the outside of Turn 5, while Jenson Button passed Felipe Massa for 16th position.

The focus soon switched to the front, as Sergio Perez began to reel in Alonso at incredible rates. The new rain shower failed to materialise, and the frontrunners’ worn inters soon began to come into the equation. Daniel Ricciardo was the first to try on the slick tyres, and instantly set fastest sectors.

This prompted a mad dash for the pit lane. Alonso pitted on Lap 41, while Perez stayed out. He stopped the next lap, but the damage had been done, as Fernando now led by 7 seconds.

Alonso and Perez congradulate each other after a thrilling battle

Alonso and Perez congradulate each other after a thrilling battle

Despite this, the Mexican driver continued to push, and astonishingly began to reel in the Ferrari once again. With 10 laps to go, the Sauber was only 3 seconds behind. Further back , Sebastian Vettel received a puncture, and dropped down the field.

But, the focus was on Perez. As he closed on Alonso, he made a slip at Turn 14, and dropped back by several seconds. He attempted to repair the damage, but there was not enough time left.

Fernando Alonso crossed the line first to win the Malaysian Grand Prix, with Perez chasing him past the line. Lewis Hamilton hung on to third place, with Mark Webber ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. Bruno Senna impressed with 6th, while Michael Schumacher inherited a point on the second last lap after Pastor Maldonado’s retirement.

Perez dropped to 22nd after gearbox change

Perez will start from 22nd

Perez will start from 22nd

Sergio Perez has been relegated to 22nd on the grid after qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix.

The Mexican driver was forced to change his gearbox after Q2, and will be dropped 5 places for tomorrow’s race. It was this gearbox issue that halted him from setting a time in Q2.

Perez said that he was still adjusting his car in Q1 when the failure occurred:

"We made some set-up changes to the car today and in Q1 I was busy adapting my 
driving style a bit.

In Q2 I knew exactly what to do but then I could not shift any more because of 
a gearbox problem. It is a true shame as there was a lot more to come from the 
car and from myself."

Perez was disqualified from last year’s Australian Grand Prix result following a rear wing technical infringement.

Seeing as neither HRT will start the race, Sergio will be the last driver on the grid.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 55 other followers