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McLaren: When the going gets tough..
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Posted By: James Allen  |  15 Apr 2013   |  6:44 pm GMT  |  176 comments

It’s tough times for McLaren at the moment: Sergio Perez has yet to get his season started while Jenson Button says his team still lack the pace to compete with the likes of Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes and Lotus despite scoring his best result of the season in China.

The 2009 world champion battled to ninth place in Australia and then failed to finish in Malaysia, after earlier being on target for a top six finish. But in China, buoyed by some new upgrades and a brave strategy, he finished fifth. In each case McLaren has gambled on strategy, because it has less to lose than its rivals, lacking pace as they do.

Button said: “We’re not quick enough to do the same strategy as others. We wouldn’t have finished fifth [without doing a two-stop strategy].

“A lot of the time we are out front and leading, but you can’t forget that you are doing fewer pit stops and quicker cars will be overtaking you. It all came good at the end, and with the pace we did have I think we should be very happy with it.

“I think we should take a lot of positives from here, but also know we have a lot of work to do to challenge at the front.”

Button’s team-mate Perez, however, continued his struggle with form, crossing the line in 11th for his second non-scoring finish in three races.

The Mexican, who joined the team this season after two years at Sauber, has managed just two points for ninth place in Malaysia and twice failed to make it into the final part of qualifying.

In China, he was also criticised by Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton for what they considered to be aggressive defensive moves.

He also crashed twice in Friday practice, first breaking his new front wing after sliding into the gravel on the pit lane entry and then spinning off track and damaging the rear of his car.

Perez said: “This was a difficult afternoon for me – there’s a lot for us to analyse, and a lot to learn. It wasn’t my best weekend in terms of pace, so there’s some work to do.

“I couldn’t find a flow throughout the whole race and was struggling with the car. We still don’t have the speed in the car, but it’s been a useful learning weekend for the whole team.”

However, team boss Martin Whitmarsh says Perez needs to “toughen up” and adapt quickly to his new team.

Whitmarsh said: “He’s been very polite so far this year. He needs to toughen up. He’s been generous in allowing people past him. I told him: ‘You have to be out there racing’. That means sometimes you have got to use elbows and you have got to be robust without being dirty.

“Inevitably, he is still a very young guy in a big team with lots of expectations. We haven’t given him a great car so far, and he is up against someone like Jenson who has done a fantastic job with the car we have given him.

“We, as a team, have to step up and support a young driver who has an enormous amount of talent. And with these tyres that are very fragile, with a car that is not quite there and with tricky racing, he did a reasonable job. But he is not satisfied with himself and nor should he be.”

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176 Comments
  1. Lewis Greaves says:

    I don’t think Mclaren made such a wise move by going for Perez, it almost seemed at the time like a knee jerk reaction to the loss of Lewis. I think he will struggle a lot this year, especially when Mclaren will need experienced hands to help progress the development of the car

    1. Bring Back Murray says:

      Yeah they rushed into that decision way too quickly. And now it’s costing them.

      But who could they have hired instead of Perez with all the world-class drivers already accounted for?

      1. Lewis Greaves says:

        I always thought Hulkenberg would have deserved the chance, I think he has such great potential… Other than that though I agree that there were no other potential options…. They took the risk in Perez, time will tell if it pays off, I doubt it will but I’d like to be proved wrong

      2. Rockie says:

        Obviously people who say the Hulk have no mind of their own just because Brundle says it, it has to be correct have you considered whatt itt takes to hire a driver?

      3. Tealeaf says:

        Yes I agree Hulkenberg would arguably beat Button but that doesn’t mean theres no other options, Di Resta is another choice, Bianchi could have been a stab in the dark but could have paid off, and Kobayashi is a faster driver than Perez on raw pace just needed guidance on strategy and Mclaren could have provided that, also Kamui would have been much more popular and exciting option too, this Perez is dead in the water.

      4. F1 Badger says:

        I’d throw kovalinen (?) into the ring. He’s evolved as a driver since his stint at mc claren. I think he’d be a great number two.

      5. Methusalem says:

        I too agree, they forgot to talk to Hulkenberg who probably might join Ferrari. With Perez, Button will have a relaxed and joyful season.

      6. DonSimon says:

        @Tealeaf

        Di Resta just is not good enough. Have not seen anything to suggest he deserves to be at a top 3-4 team. Force India is about his limit.

      7. Lewis says:

        @ Rockie I don’t think everybody who’s suggested Hulkenberg has said so because Martin Brundle has… I don’t watch Sky so I’m not aware of any of his comments surrounding this. Hulkenberg is a talented driver, and he was often linked albeit briefly to Ferrari when Massa was struggling mid 2012. He was good in 2010, and a lot better than Di Resta over the majority of the season last year, he deserves just as much of a chance as Perez, and isn’t he backed by Dekra? If so he might have brought sponsorship too.

      8. Paige says:

        Hulkenburg had the complete resume to justify getting the McLaren seat. He was a F3 and GP2 champion- a rather common route toward a top ride in F1. He won a pole in a freaking Williams in his rookie year- even if he generally struggled that year. He sat a year on the sidelines, then came back and showed remarkable pace and consistency, demolishing di Resta. His drive last year alone merited a call up to a bigger ride. It was every bit as impressive as what Kubica was doing with non-optimal BMWs. He very easily could have won in Brazil if he was more patient. Perez had some good results, but he showed nowhere near the consistency or polish that Hulkenberg did.

      9. RichTea says:

        Hulkenberg

      10. Cuba says:

        Had Kimi re-signed for Lotus at that point?

      11. Timmay says:

        We should all be SO thankful Kimi isn’t in a mclaren dog this year. Stick to 1 year deals Kimi & go to Red Bull.

      12. j says:

        I wonder if they asked him for a meeting. I don’t think Kimi would willingly sign up to drive at a corporate hellhole like that. Rules, rules and more rules. Tell you what to wear, make you wear a suit and spend evenings schmoozing with corporate stiffs. Tell you what to say, a PR person at your elbow during interviews. Watch one of those horrible Hilton Honours videos with Lewis from last year and picture Kimi instead LOL.

      13. hero_was_senna says:

        I don’t think Kimi has any desire to return to Mclaren. His hatred of all things promotion and interviews is well known. That was one of the reasons Lewis left.

      14. Scott says:

        While Kimi has a dislike for all things corporate, he does have a liking for money. (I certainly do not blame anyone for that) If the offer was too attractive, he would go.

      15. Skan says:

        The Hulk!

      16. Rich_M says:

        Hulkenberg? Not proved as world class yet but I would have gone for him.

      17. Steven says:

        And Perez has proved himself as world class?

      18. Matt says:

        Surely Nico Hulkenberg was the obvious choice?

        Prior to F1 his record was outstanding. He outperformed Di Resta, once he got to grip with the car in the second half of last season and has shown decent race craft.

        It appears to me like McLaren either acted in a knee jerk fashion or were simply after potential sponsorship from Telmex.

        Let’s face it, Perez’s record since signing that deal for McLaren has been awful and in qualifying trim, he’s way off the pace of Button.

        I’ve never rated Perez as a top driver and I wouldn’t be surprised, if we’re looking at another Michael Andretti here.

      19. The Catman says:

        With hindsight the Hulk would have been a better choice, but he hadn’t really pulled away from di Resta when McLaren found out that Lewis was off to Mercedes.

        TC

      20. Quade says:

        I was among the first last year to state that Perez was a dud for McLaren, because he was only flattered by the artificial tyre lottery that was the early half of last season. As soon as the teams got to grips with the tyres, Perez dropped down the ranks like an unholy stone.

        Its really strange that Ferrari (his sponsors into F1) concluded that Perez lacked the experience necessary for a top team, but McLaren somehow signed him on.

      21. Simmo says:

        Glock would have been a choice (although at the time he was in contract), or Kovalainen, who has had chance to improve since 2009, and definitely had done.

      22. Anne says:

        Raikkonen, when the rumors that Lewis was going somewhere else started. They should have made a verbal agreement with Kimi. Then sign him after the official news about Lewis

      23. Timmay says:

        Everyone saying this as if Kimi’d be better off coming 5th in a mclaren instead of 1st for Lotus???

      24. NickH says:

        Raikkonen would never sign a McLaren contract again. Fact

      25. mark says:

        hulkenberg would have been a much better bet

      26. Wayne says:

        Can’t understand why they didn’t sign Hulk… Perez never justified that seat, it’s like McLaren just panicked.

        Butt on was often a match for HAM in the race but he was hardly ever even close to HAM (in F1 terms) in qualy. If Button in qualifying that car 4 tenths faster than Perez then it’s safe to say that Perez would have been7-8 tenths slower than HAM. That’s worth a couple of grid places at least.

      27. Samir says:

        I believe Nico Hulkenberg was available at the time since he signed up for Sauber after Perez moved to McLaren, unless you consider Perrez to be better. If I look back over the last decade, McLaren have made some curious decisions, and its interesting that the 3 men on the China podium were former McLaren men. Both Kimi and Lewis could and should have won at least one more title each at McLaren IMO

      28. Quade says:

        The real problem with McLaren is the decision making. I did think that Paddy Lowe would have taken over from the end of last season after the Lewis situation had been so badly handled, but he too is now off to Mercedes.

        Hulkenburg would have been the closest fit for the hole Lewis left. But Kobayashi, Kovalainnen would all have been far better replacements than Perez.

        McLaren will recover from this trend (fingers crossed), but it might be too late for this season and could even affect 2014 onward.

      29. Rob says:

        Nico Hulkenberg?

      30. Thomas says:

        Hulkenberg.

      31. Val from montreal says:

        Schumacher ?

      32. madmax says:

        Alonso said Schumacher would have won 3 times think it was in last year’s Sauber so shows his opinion on the matter.

        If Schumi started to win again in the McLaren it would go down so bad in Germany it would probably help push them out of the sport and free engines again for McLaren if Honda thing fell through.

        Especially if Hamilton still isn’t winning or Rosberg’s car still keeps breaking down.

      33. Bring Back Murray says:

        That’s the best answer yet. Surely even Shumi well past his prime would still be getting more out of the car that Perez is at the moment!

      34. Sebee says:

        If Carlos Slim money doesn’t come in to replace Vodafone, they may have a spot open in 2014.

      35. Stephen Taylor says:

        No Gilette are replacing Vodafone!

      36. Sebee says:

        I saw that but didn’t even bother reading it as I thought they were going to be a small sponsor.

        Gilette? Replacing a main sponsor? It’s really starting to look lean at McLaren. Mercedes is the new McLaren. Even results of Merceds nearly match McLaren’s of 2012 so far. Where as McLaren’s 2013 results match Force India!!!

      37. Chris NZ says:

        it sounds as if a new principle sponsor for mclaren has been sorted. I thought it maybe telmex?

      38. Kay says:

        JA already had an article on this, only a few pages back.

        Carlos helped McLaren to pull some strings and made Gilette the main sponsors from 2014 onwards.

        Thought you’d have read that?!

      39. chris green says:

        hulkenberg

    2. hero_was_senna says:

      Funny isn’t it, when you remember how LdM was criticised when he said Perez wasn’t ready to join Ferrari last year..

      1. engen says:

        That is a good point.

      2. Stephen Taylor says:

        And Montezemelo knows how to choose drivers wisely.

      3. hero_was_senna says:

        I’m sensing tongue in cheek..

        When he took over at Ferrari in 1991, the first major decision he made was was to sign up Todt.
        He secured his services for 1993 because Todt wanted to enter F1 with Peugeot, but Peugeot decided against it on business grounds.

        He allowed Todt to run the team until 2008.

        There have been only a few times that LdM has stepped over the team principals decision.

        The first time in 1999 when he called MSC at home to see when he would be recovered to assist Ferrari in the championships. Famously, his daughter replied “Daddys outside playing football.”

        Whilst LdM is the figurehead, I don’t believe he is the sort of manager that has to micro manage, unlike Ron Dennis.

      4. Brace says:

        I remember people talking how he would have had an edge over Alonso! I just can’t emphasize how much I laughed back then, and even more now when I remember that. :)

      5. gollino says:

        I can see a pay drive team willing to take him within 2 years.

      6. Elie says:

        I honestly don’t think Mclaren made a bad choice. We all forget Sergio was challenging Ferrari last year in a Sauber and being very clever with the tyres then its very easy to be critical when he moves to a new team and a very complex car.and worse tyres Ok I would agree that he is not delivering at the moment and I really dislike his weaving and agressive shifting when defending but I think he can learn alot from Jenson and will be quick when the cars a bit better.

        It’s great to choose Hulkenberg but ironically he just started to come on song the last four races around the time they signed Sergio. There was nothing in it in my books at tw time. Even then he was only on some peoples radar at Brazil. Hindsight is beautiful isn’t it ..

    3. Sascha says:

      They should have moved heaven & hell to keep Hamilton. Now McLaren (Dennis) pay the price for their pride.

      1. Bring Back Murray says:

        It’s on Whitmarsh’s back, insn’t it?

      2. Kay says:

        Whoever voted on Perez for the seat at the McLaren camp is certainly bleeding McLaren now!

    4. Jazzda says:

      Perez is not a top driver. He must be a top payer, as I can’t see another reason for him to be in a top team , or even in F1.
      And McLaren has a true talented driver in his squad (racing in GTs), named Parente. Only his name would put who raced him to nail biting, like Hamilton, Vettel or Hulkenberg. Perez and Maldonado would start crying.

    5. F1Fan says:

      I have often said that Hamilton never got enough credit for his rookie season at McLaren. The argument was always made that Hamilton was lucky to come into F1 with a good car in a good team. Perez clearly shows that there is a bit more involved than that.

      In Hamilton’s case, he had the pressure of being teamed up with the prevailing 2x WDC and the then best driver on the grid, and he matched Alonso race by race. In addition, he also had to deal with intra team dysfunction and the whole Ferrari-McLaren IP scandal, and yet he largely kept his focus.

      Given all that was going on in that team in 2007, Hamilton did remarkably well to almost win the WDC. Amazingly, he was criticized for not winning it, and yet in the early part of the season, who would have expected him, a rookie, with Alonso as a team mate, to have won it?

      1. Kay says:

        Even with a good (or best) car, it takes the best to win with it, as shown by Kovo (in his McLaren years), Webber, Massa (2009 – mid 2012), Grosjean (2013 till now), B.Senna (2012).

        Hamilton certainly made the best of his rookie year.

  2. Bring Back Murray says:

    Sad to see such a well established team in free fall like this.

    It started off in early last season with all those almightly pit stop blunders. Then after losing Hamilton they not only hire a virtual rookie but go and stuff the car up again just to put the icing well at truly on the cake.

    I really think there is no way out of this. If they can beat the Force India’s this season then that’ll be a good result for them.

    1. Wayne says:

      McLaren will find a way by 1/2 season but then it will be too late. They KEEP doing this over the last 4 years or so, it’s fairly disgraceful.

      1. F1 Badger says:

        By the end of Europe mc claren will have won a race.

      2. Timmay says:

        What does that really mean in a season where I reckon at least 5 teams and probably force india as a 6th might win a race? Not much.

      3. F1 Badger says:

        Nothing more than they will win a race. Does what it says in the tin

      4. Bring Back Murray says:

        I’m not sure Wayne. I think it’s different this time round. My gut feeling is that they will be struggling all season now. Perez is just going to bring the whole team down. Well in the right conditions Button might pull out 1 or 2 decent results.

        Then again my gut feeling was that Hamilton had a made a terrible decision to join Merc so what do I know!

      5. Kay says:

        Seems like Hamilton has made one of the best decision in his life! :D

  3. goferet says:

    Actually Jenson has been doing a good job with what he has got both in China (and Malaysia too before the retirement) for if one does the calculations, this means Jenson finished ahead of one Lotus, one Mercedes, one Red Bull and one Ferrari >>> cars that are all faster.

    Yeah, it’s still tough times for Mclaren but as they said, Barcelona is where they will be rolling up the official upgraded car, so I will wait and see.

    As for Perez, if he was a Maldonado type i.e. Lots of pace, just a little shabby >>> then Mclaren would have had something to work with.

    But in Perez’s case, he is slow which is a much bigger problem for with that, a solution is much difficult.

    So yeah, the future doesn’t look so rosy for Mclaren at this moment in time and when you add the Honda engines to Mclaren’s future, then, that too looks bleek >>> but hey, life is unpredictable just look at the 2009 season.

    P.s.

    Billy Ocean:

    When the going gets tough >>> the tough get going

    When the going gets rough >>> the tough get rough

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      Look at the 2009 season, and look who was driving the cars then. Heikki didn’t do anything, it was only Hamilton that made any difference.
      Button, whilst sublime in a car that is perfectly balanced, is nowhere in a car that struggles or needs to be driven

      1. Bob Baker says:

        What you chatting on about? In 2009 neither Kovalainen nor Hamilton could do anything when the car was poor at the start of the season, only when he car was good Hamilton could do something, Heiki was poor anyway even in the championship winning car, Button was overall a match for Hamilton if not in qualifying but proved to be much better than Kovalainen, Perez and Barrichello, Jenson is underrated and a worthy world champion, but at the end they should have gone for Webber, Mark is doing 1 season too many at Redbull.

      2. Justin says:

        Webber should of signed with Ferrari for 2013/2014 and then gone to Porsche. Porsche would of waited for Webber.

        Now Porsche is wanting to run 2014 – So this is Webber’s last season, and yes, one too many with RBR

      3. hero_was_senna says:

        Sorry, I’d have thought that my previous comment was easier to understand.
        Yes, it was only Hamilton that won races in the car once it was sorted out.

      4. Scott says:

        I believe mark had already re-signed with RBR by then.

      5. Samir says:

        Webber had already signed for Red Bull after the British GP, if my memory serves me correctly, therefore he would not have been available. For the same reason, the Red Bull seat was not available for Hamilton. When the Mclarens haven’t been on song in recent years, Hamilton has been the one most likely to drive above the expected pace of the car. The early part of 2009, parts of 2012 if you compare his performance with Button’s bear this out. While it is true that Button is underrated, the “sum of points over 3 yrs” argument that people offer when comparing Hamilton/Button is misleading. If Button-Mclaren is a championship contending package, they need to prove it sometime in the manner that Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton have in recent years.

      6. KRB says:

        There’s an idea … Webber to McLaren for next year?

      7. mbraz says:

        webber to mclaren next year

      8. Elie says:

        Yes and leading on from this. It’s no surprise that whenever Mclaren update their car- Lewis usually shines immediately then a few races later the co drivers start finding pace. I think the great drivers tend to direct improvements much quicker. Alonso last year, Raikkonen immediately last year, and we all saw what Hamilton did with German upgrades last year. Great drivers calibrate the car to the track better because they have a great natural feel. Mclaren will continue to struggle for a few more races yet- but just look at the great steps Mercedes are making -both Brawn & Wolffe have stated their performance have exceeded expectations and I think there is more to come. Will be really interesting come summer when all these teams performances converge !

      9. acherco says:

        And also, one thing that Mclaen have not mention is that their 2012 spec was built around Lewis not jensen.
        After lewis left they decided to rebuilt the whole car around jenson which hasn’t worked out yet. The pace is there, but jenson is struggling to get it out. if jenson cant, you cant expect perez wont be.

  4. Chris says:

    Should have signed Kobayashi or Hulk. Both would have been better than lucky-strategy-gifted-podium-finish Perez

    1. Charith Arachchi says:

      At first I thought the Perez signing was a good move by McLaren, but in retrospect it does seem like a poor decision. Especially in light of Sergio’s performance after his McLaren signing. And to think, they had options like Kobayashi, Hulkenberg, or even Alguersuari!

      A wealth of driving talent left the grid at the end of 2012… McLaren could have done better.

      1. Thomas says:

        The fact that Jaime is not on the grid is a real shame. He is not only a good driver who could have been great, he is a great personality and a massive positive for the sport.

      2. Quade says:

        Yes, everyone forgets Alguersuari. He is quite talented, but same as Kobayashi and Kovi, is without a drive only due to the influx of pay drivers.

    2. Pietrus says:

      LOL at Kobayashi suggestion

      1. FW14B says:

        You laugh, but one wonders if it may still be a distinct possibility with the future Honda tie up?

      2. Basil Binx says:

        I think Kobayashi would have been a great signing, especially if you consider the Honda rumours.

      3. Pete_from_Nepal says:

        Why do you LOL? Not criticizing, just interested to hear your opinion

      4. Timmay says:

        Because someone is suggesting Kob over someone who beat him for 2 consecutive years as a rookie (more often than not and overall there was no real debate of Ko > Perez)

        Perez = bad tho.

      5. Pete_from_Nepal says:

        Good points Timmay. I agree with you. Perez probably was a better driver over a season, although I hate to admit it. Kobayashi is just more exciting of a racer and has more personality than Perez, although Perez sure does maintain his tires a lot better… (smh at state of tire affairs in F1)

      6. Hugo says:

        Kobayashi!!!! come one get serious, yeah Perez needs to match Jenson, but he’s the new guy coming in, and he beat Koba in Sauber all the time come on!!!

      7. Quade says:

        He only beat him because of the artificial tyre situation which has given several slow drivers a leg up. I would sign Kobayashi a million times over Perez.

    3. Steven says:

      WHy Kobayahsi? I dont get why people say he would do better. Perez beat Kamui at Sauber…

      1. Overtaker says:

        No, he didn’t. But Crashjean did.

  5. onionhead says:

    I’m confused by this, they’re telling Perez to be more aggressive, but what was the point in battling with Alonso, Hamilton, Raikkonen etc, he was just slowing himself down, BUT they were telling Button to let those cars past … ??

    1. Quade says:

      Button was specifically told to fight Lewis. So, it wasn’t just Perez getting calls to be aggresive.

  6. Gul says:

    I can’t help but ask each quali\race what would Lewis do in that car….sigh.

    1. kfzmeister says:

      Well, look at what he’s doing at Mercedes with that car. Then, compare that to Rosberg.

    2. Rockie says:

      What did he do when he was there more like ?

    3. Pranav says:

      Pretty much what he’s doing with the Mercedes right now.

      I had predicted this last year; about Lewis taking the car to positions it wasn’t meant to be in. The car is a little better than what EVERYONE had expected, so it’s a little easier for him. But the quality of that man’s driving will show through the car during the whole season. He is going to eat up Nico Rosberg. If Mercedes can do in 2014 what they’ve been saying all along, Hamilton will be at the front of the title race, considering his new-found maturity.

      1. Simon Donald says:

        The problem with Hammy’s current situation is that the Mercedes just isn’t quite there yet. He can pull a pole out of the bag but can’t really keep up with the leaders in the race especially considering Kimi passed him for second in a car with a whole heap of front end grip missing. The more I think about what Kimi did having fallen back at the start and getting tangled up Perez and in a half race battle with Hammy, the more I think he could have taken the fight to Alonso for the win. Are we heading to a reply of 2005??

      2. Grant says:

        This was really quite an embarrassment for Merc, Hope Ross Brawn can deliver the promise of improving that car.

  7. Peter C says:

    Where’s Wayne? This one’s just made for him!

    1. Wayne says:

      Here I am! I’d already posted above before I got to your gallant and generous invitation.

      HAM would not be doing much better in the race than BUT is but he’d be qualifying higher by an average of two grid slots, which means about four to six grid slots better than Perez who never, ever justified that seat.

      1. Ross says:

        +100!

        I love the sport, but I’m still to this day utterly amazed at how short people’s memories are. Perez had three podiums primarily from strategy calls outside of the top ten; and yet Heikki gets dropped despite being in most people’s rating of the top 5 drivers in 2011!

        Not suggesting they should have gone with Heikki, just that they didn’t do enough homework. There are so, so many good drivers out there. Sort of feels like they plumped for the one who caught a few headlines and is also friends with the richest man in the world…

      2. Kay says:

        McLaren has already marked quite a lot of poor homework from Heikki a few years back. Not the kind of student that’d do much better according to their first hand experience.

  8. Sergio says:

    Well, I see a finger upon Perez. I have to talk about the Mexican and avoid Mclaren form, I have to talk about the Mexican and avoid Mclaren form, I have to talk about the Mexican and avoid Mclaren form…

    1. a says:

      Curiously, the major criticisms over Checo’s performance, come from british people/drivers. They just can’t handle the fact, that besides Button and Hamilton, there aren’t other british drivers worth of drive a McLaren. All of you just tagged Checo as a ‘pay driver’, when Max Chilton is the biggest ‘pay driver’ on the grid. You said that Maldonado has the pace, when although he won at Barcelona, he is the most dangerous driver. The season is in the fourth race, why don’t you save the attacks towards Perez when the european season ends?

  9. mhilgtx says:

    I watched the Mclaren unavailing over the winter and Perez came across as over his head then. Certainty unpolished, however it is hard to tell because he gave the interview in English.

    Watching him drive these first few races closely I am sure he is in over his head. This isn’t a bad thing as I am sure he will grow into it. Driving for an underdog like Sauber surely is much different than driving for a top team like Mclaren. I just expect this year to be a tough year for Mclaren even if they get their pace issues figured out.

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      Yes, but when Mclaren signed Kimi from Sauber, he was instantly quick. And that was after a year of F1 races and 23 car races pre F1

      1. Dave says:

        Different drivers develop at different rates. Alan Jones did little for a while but became world champion. Mansell was considered a bad choice at the start of his career, so was Lauda who didn’t impress much in his first season.

        Many top drivers have taken time to adjust in the past and many have come out and were immediately quick. Don’t sign off Perez yet

      2. Peter C says:

        Well said Dave. A rare voice of sanity in the world of ” sack the driver” (after his 3rd race in a completely different Team from last year & a car that’s not right yet) & “sack the manager”,
        when things aren’t going well.
        It smacks of the football fans who want the manager sacked when a team is sliding down the league tables.

      3. Timmay says:

        I signed him off last October, seen nothin to change my mind since.

      4. iceman says:

        I agree Dave, it is much to early to write off Perez. He is just 3 races into his third year in F1, with only his second team.

        Unfortunately for him he could hardly have picked a worse time to make the move. He has to deal with a much poorer car than he would have expected from McLaren, with problems that apparently no-one in the team really understands. On top of that the new tyres are making it more difficult than ever before to get meaningful information out of testing and practice. He has a real uphill struggle on his hands.

      5. Stephen Taylor says:

        and Sergio doesn’t have the benefit of having a Mika Hakkinen to mentor him and nor does he have a certain Ron Dennis leading the team. Maybe Kimi could act as a mentor to Sergio?

      6. Steven says:

        Why would a driver from one team mentor a driver from another team? o_O Doesnt make sence…

  10. Irish con says:

    I agree with Martin Brundle that I would of put Nico Hulkenburg in the mclaren instead of Perez. Perez isn’t a bad driver but I don’t think he is ready for a mclaren drive yet. I also hate the way he moves about in the braking zones. It’s the thing I hate most in f1 these days. Vettel used to do this also and he nearly took him and Lewis out in Austin when Lewis was overtaking him. This swerving and moving about like that has to stop.

    1. Rockie says:

      it was very unprofessional for him to have said that on TV thats the kind of banter you have with your friends not on air. He’s nott a columnists he’s a commentator.

      1. Irish con says:

        I think I am about to break the world record for the amount anyone has ever disagreed with anyone. Brundle writes in papers and is also a pundit outside of the com box and has said on many times previously he would of put hulk in the mclaren. It’s public knowledge that’s been his opinion and everyone is entitled to speak there mind no matter were there at.

      2. Rockie says:

        Listen to DC he makes more sense you cant analyse a team you dont know the inner workings of. Wait till the Mclaren comes good then you can evaluate Perez.

      3. Scott D says:

        @ Rocky. Brundle drove for McLaren in 1994 so will know a fair bit about them. Agree that he he is too biased at times and hasn’t given Perez enough of a chance to prove himself.

      4. Simon Donald says:

        Actually it is a columnist as well. The commentator isn’t just there to dictate the race. That would be boring as all hell, he is entirely entitled to his opinion and as an experienced F1 and Le Mans driver as well as now one of the best and most seasoned motorsports commentators around, I am more than happy to listen to his valuable opinion.

      5. Rockie says:

        He works for sky does not work for himself, just the same way he put it in peoples mind Vettel is a lucky driver. When he had his alternator failure in Valencia why didn’t he call him unlucky? its sad people cant make up their own mind and just regurgitate any garbage heard.

    2. KRB says:

      Definitely have to stamp out those shudder moves. They’re unsporting, illegal, and potentially dangerous.

  11. Il Leone says:

    Hulkenburg should have got the drive. Simple as.

  12. petrolhead says:

    Romain Grosjean is my bet. Together with a good coach and a shrink. He is obviously very fast and just needs to be tamed a little too show his full potential.

    1. Random 79 says:

      He has been tamed, but I tend to think he was showing his potential up until then. Now he just seems…slow :(

    2. Quade says:

      A shrink?!!

    3. Simon Donald says:

      Does anyone else feel Romain seems to have lost something this season? He just seems to have lost half a yard of speed. Maybe he is just trying to be super cautious, but given how fast Kimi has been I would have expected him to be right up there with him.

  13. TitanRacer says:

    I have always liked Jens despite his not being able to pull BAR up and his sometimes getting “lost” on setups. but I think he is really on top of his game with his side of the garage so far this year.
    Perez, unfortunately, not so much. I expected a bit more from him. about 1/6 of the season is already over and he has floundered! I do not dislike Ferrari nor McLaren – just not a fanboy of either, but I am starting to think Ferrari were right in stating Perez is not ready for the big time.
    I expect this to be a short-term marriage at this point, unless…

  14. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    If you don’t let Hamilton go, you wouldn’t have this debate about Perez.

    And you let Hamilton go when you place intentionally your love in Button, make stupid pits and fuel errors, reliability issues when your are leading…

    It’s just decision procedures that are wrong, even if you win some races that’s not enough for a team like McLaren.

    McLaren had in Hamilton-Button the best teammate relationship, letting Hamilton go, the team just got more problems, not less.

  15. shri says:

    Hulkenberg in my view is a much stronger choice who seem to rise even with an average car. Pole for Williams, Leading race in Brazil last year before crashing, leading in China yesterday ahead of Vettel with same strategy and many other instances can be provided.

    DiResta to me is a good but average driver.

    I hope Hulk gets a drive at one of the top teams next year and would be very interesting to see how he performs (if he gets the drive).

    1. Dave says:

      I would care to point out that Perez has done similarly impressive feats to the things you just listed Hulkenberg doing.

      1. Quade says:

        Perez has never been on pole, nor has he ever led a race.

      2. Rockie says:

        He barely got pole due to being on a wet set up, didn’t get to turn 2 in the lead and was going back like he was in reverse.

      3. Mitchel says:

        +1.

        Let’s see where everyone’s at come mid-championship…

    2. KRB says:

      Ok, is it just me or was it totally Di Resta’s fault for the contact with Sutil? What did he think would happen, going where he did? Then it seems in his comments he was complaining about it, saying it cost him a higher finish.

  16. Gazz says:

    People who say the team would be much further up the grid with Hamilton in the car really demonstrate how very little they know about F1. I will be the first to say that Lewis is a one lap specialist, as Vettel is, but in the race Jenson was very close. If Lewis was in the car, taking the time difference of a couple of tenths over Jenson, they would still only be around 8,9,10th on race pace. Please keep comments as close to reality as possible. As far as Checo is concerned, Whitmarsh needs to give the guy a car that worthy of a decent lap time and maybe, just maybe we might see a more confident driver. I do agree however that the prospect of sponsorship was the persuading factor in his signing.

    1. Rockie says:

      Could not have said it better.

    2. Sascha says:

      I don’t agree with you, Hamilton is only a 1 lap wonder. Look what he did last year, when Button run into a dead end with his car development route. Without Hamilton delivering the results, anyone would have thought the car is bad & they wouldn’t have come back on track, without the data Hamilton provided.I’m sure, still having Hamilton in the car would massively benefit McLaren ATM.

    3. Merlin says:

      Do you remember when Jenson became utterly lost with the car’s setup at several times during 2012, especially between the Spanish and British GPs? During that same period, Hamilton was consistently a front-runner, won in Canada, qualified on pole at Spain (and should have won had McLaren not accidentally under-fueled the car), and was running third in Valencia until Maldonaldo ran him off the road. In short, without Hamilton to provide a reference to show what the MP4-27 was capable of, it would have been easy to mistakenly conclude that McLaren was simply not competitive compared to the other leading teams at the time. I suspect that there’s an element of this dynamic unfolding at McLaren now, with Jenson left to push the team all by himself because Perez is unable to.

      1. Timmay says:

        This is accurate.

      2. Kay says:

        Well said.

    4. KRB says:

      “Up the grid” refers to the starting grid. If one figures that Hamilton could qualify on average 3-tenth’s higher than Button, then it’s a perfectly valid point.

    5. Steven says:

      He needs to give the guy a car worthy of a decent lap time? I dont think anybody is asking him to win the WDC, but hes not even close to his teammate, and thats all that is being asked of him. Button is driving the same car and hes placing higher than Checo.

    6. Gazz says:

      I agree with everything that is being said and perhaps a little lacking in my stats. Lewis is probably the quickest guy out there so its no wonder everyone uses him as a yardstick to measure against. But Jenson is no slouch either and can not be expected to any better than his best. That best might not be good enough in the eyes of us armchair experts, but the car is as much a dog as has been produced by McLaren in many years. People go on about the good old days when uncle Ron was in charge, but be honest, what have they achieved in the last 10 years, 1 x WDC and nothing else. McLaren have not been producing championship winning cars for many years so this is nothing new. Jenson is not to blame and I put the problem directly at Paddy Lowe’a feet. He designed this car and its a bad one. So what if Jenson is not as good as Lewis, that makes no difference to the team at the moment, and I stand by my comment, Lewis would still only get this car 7 or 8th in Q3 at the moment.

  17. csrweb says:

    McLaren must know something about Perez the rest of us don’t. Maybe we shouldn’t be judging someone after 3 races but I can’t see it getting any easier this season.

    1. madmax says:

      The problem is Ferrari knew more about him than McLaren and still never signed him when Massa was struggling like crazy.

    2. hero_was_senna says:

      Do they?
      Or was his signing meant to be a two fingered salute to Ferrari?
      When someone like Whitmarsh suggests he gets more aggressive, I’d suggest they don’t like what they’re seeing

    3. Steven says:

      They know how much money he brought in… LOL

      1. Kay says:

        Was going to say the same!

  18. Dave says:

    Perez is a good sign. I felt he was a future champion as much as Hulkenberg, Maldanado and Grosjean. Hulkenberg has impressed me as much as Perez and when at Force India did as much as Perez at Sauber. I feel that Hulkenberg would have faired in the same way as Perez. It’s still early days and he is up against a greatly improved Button who has worked with the team for 4 years now. Give him time. Kovalainen took a while to impress at Renault. As I say Hulkenberg impressed me as much as Di Resta which wasn’t enough to warrant the McLaren drive.

    1. Rockie says:

      This same thing people were saying was said about Vettel. Look at where he is today.

    2. Hugo says:

      AGREE!!!

  19. Sascha says:

    It’s not Perez fault, it’s McLaren, who makes mistake after mistake. It started with Whitmarsh as TP. Losing Hamilton was a big mistake, losing Lowe the next
    Now they are ruining Perez, wanting the world to believe he would be able to replace Hamilton easily. This inevitably must lead to frustration of the driver , the team and the fans.
    Whitmarshs comments do not help at all, as they put pressure on Perez, who is already under heavy pressure.It looks like Perez has lost his confidence, already.

  20. AC says:

    They should have just sat tight and left the seat open for a while instead of rushing for Perez, a guy Ferrari didn’t want. The McLaren name carries enough cache (at least it did last season, not so much now!) that drivers would wait for that seat to fill before going elsewhere. McLaren could have had their pick TBH. They also have a stable of young drivers, none of whom seemed to get a look in. Hell, they could even have brought Kovi or PdlR back for a few races or whole season as an interim measure – at least they are known quantities. And I wonder if Webber would have been tempted to get away from RBR????

  21. Marcin says:

    So.. it looks like maybe Perez wasn’t outperforming his car last year. Maybe the car was flattering him instead. Looking at his recent performances it’s possible that the Sauber was the fastest car for half of last year.

    1. Timmay says:

      The 2012 Sauber deserved to win some GPs – no doubt about that and its not even in hindsight. They had 2 below average (not even just average) drivers.

  22. Mike says:

    1.Lewis was in qualy most of the time 3 tenths faster as button. Do the math where Lewis would have placed that Mclaren.
    2.I would choose Hulkenbergs resume all day over Perez.
    3. Season is to short to really tell. Let’s wait 5 more races to flush Buttons dream car and Perez the boy wonder in the toilet….. Just saying.

  23. Too early to judge Perez, the season is long.

    McLaren have bigger fish to fry at the moment (like their 2014 car…).

  24. John says:

    McLaren will not win any championship under Whitmarsh. This season is a wrap up already. Something is missing in that team, if its not the car, it the pitcrew, or the strategy.

    Now they have a below average car and below average drivers. Its going to be a couple of seasons before anything happens.

  25. Hendri says:

    Well, so far McLaren only have one and half complete drivers among other Big Teams like Ferrari Red Bull Lotus or Merc.

  26. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    James – it seemed that no so long ago Di Resta was being groomed for McLaren. Do you think it was only the idea of not having two UK drivers that meant he missed out on the drive?

    1. Kay says:

      The McLaren-Mercedes marriage came to a divorce too soon for Di Resta.

  27. Chris Chong says:

    Agree with the majority of people’s opinions about Kobayashi, but I doubt McLaren would hire him. Kobayashi’s a Toyota man, and if Honda were to come back, they’d want to put one of their own men in.

    If anything, Kobayashi’s next biggest shot would be at Ferrari (if/when Massa implodes). After all, Kamui’s already got one foot in the door :D

    1. Kay says:

      Perez was a Ferrari man, and look where he is now.

      Kimi was a McLaren man ended in a Ferrari in his first F1 career.

      Webber was a Mercedes-backed man in Le Mans until he joined F1, and was never looked at for an F1 seat in the Merc GP F1 team.

      Sauber was a Mercedes team until they joined the F1 party and have been powered by Ferrari for a long time.

      So Koby being a “Toyota man” isn’t really a valid point.

  28. Manu says:

    To all those who are scratching their heads over the Perez pick, I honestly feel their needs to be a bit of patience.

    1. The car has not been performing anywhere near the level of the top teams. The qualifying times and race speed are an indication of that. When McL is using 2012 Sauber tyre saving strategy to gain points something is not right. They are scavenging for points. Hence, the low performance with JB & PER

    2. I don’t understand how many of you believe HULK should have been the replacement and not PER, especially those that say Perez did nothing to deserve the seat, yet didnt he get 3 podiums to hulk’s 0? Although in a Spanish interview Perez’ dad revealed that from acc. To Perez Hulk is going to be the driver to watch in the future, Hulk did nothing last year to justify a top seat. All of you Hulk lovers only remember his 4th place finish and leading a several laps at Brazil (only to choke that race away). But besides that what else did he do? Perez, at the least has tasted the glory and knows what it is like to fight for a podium on not only 1, but 3 occasions. Most forget that at Malaysia and Monza he started outside the top 10 and pulled off a tremendous result (2nd place). Perez has earned that opportunity with RESULTS that can be measured. After seeing what Sutil tried to do in Australia this year, it becomes evident how hard it is for a mid level team to earn a podium. That’s what makes PER’s results last year all the more credible and strengthen’s his claim for EARNING the seat. One podium may be lucky, but 3 on a mid level/table team shows some skill. Lets see how many Hulk, Di Resta, Sutil, Maldonado and even Grosjean get this year.

    We should also think this. If Sergio is a pay driver, when have we seen a pay driver earn 3 trophies recently? He has the skill, but the car isn’t there.

    3) It’s almost comical the suggestions on this forum as to who should have been a better fit for the MCL seat. Alguesuari? Really, the man doesn’t even have a ride. If he was so good others would be salivating over him. What does that tell you? Kobayashi? One podium on his home track and he’s better than Perez? When Perez did it 3 times! Kovalainen? If he was so talented couldn’t he have gotten Caterham some points. Di Resta? All he had was one 4th place in Sing. and that makes him and you believe he is ready for the elite. Come on people! PER has shown he can get a car to the front and stay there, not the others while driving similar machines. Maldonado? If he is so quick, why have Williams been way outside the top 10 this year? It is because they drivers are nothing without the car and the right set up.

    4. I feel we are too quick to judge and want to set PER up for failure. The true assessment needs to take place in NOV. when the season is over.

    1. Erik says:

      For me the clincher with Perez was in pre season testing when we had a bit of a frightened rant to the media about the Pirelli tyres and how they would need to change tyres 7 times a race. A comment that lacked maturity and a measured approach I thought. Yes the tyres wore rapidly but it was a cold winter for the tyres in Europe and his own team at the time even said so. So he said it for effect then perhaps, but again, not something an experienced driver focused on the job at hand would chose to say to the media, it was a bit childish and the Alonsos and Raikonens at the time were getting on with the job. It was obvious then that the boy is young to this game, and will probably spend quite some time making mistakes and breaking cars before he comes good.

      Which does not bode well for McLaren’s chances this year of course. Button will pick up some of the pieces but it fares badly for them for the next few years:

      They can say goodbye to the championship this year, judging by how well the opposition is doing, even if McLaren catch up, the other teams are strong and McLaren would need to develop a superior car to the Red Bull/Ferrari out of a bad one to overtake them on points (don’t see it).

      Then next year they will need to retain Perez even if he does badly this year so that whoever made the call up the foodchain to hire him over Hulk can get the opportunity to save face. Button will stay too so again no top three driver.

      Then McLaren is looking at a new engine partner in Honda after that, who will be coming in a year too late with the turbo era and so playing catch-up. And generally speaking new engines take a while to develop into winners anyway (can’t think of a manufacturer who just came into F1 recently and won straight away), so there’s another 2-3 years of not so great results.

      By that point the south American money will likely have dried up and McLaren may be in need of cash… A sad state of affairs for a powerhouse team that seems to be in decline.

    2. Stephen Taylor says:

      Did not Perez choke in Malaysia 2012 when he should of won? Hulk has outperformed his equiqment . Sergios podium results flatter to deceive in that he had a car which seemed to use its tyres better than the competition. I think Perez will need to put some good performances in before the British GP or he could be getting the ‘Alan Sugar’ treatment from Mclaren sooner than later.

      1. coppilcus says:

        Didn’t Nico choke at Brasil? The one that shouldn’t be talking about the abbility of any driver is Martin Brundle… the guy drove 170 gp’s and got nowhere.

      2. Stephen Taylor says:

        Well, Martin Brundle is more qualified to talk about drivers than any people who make comments on this forum , including me & YOU . The fact is he said would rather see Hulk at Mclaren and so would I.

    3. Chris Chong says:

      Perez got his podiums through big gambles on strategy. Kamui got his on sheer pace. Whenever Sauber split their strategies last year, they tended to put Perez out of sync with the leaders and made Kamui go head to head.

  29. Gareth says:

    ahhh Mclaren the winner of ” how to screw things up award”

  30. Erik says:

    Does anyone else feel like McLaren is heading in the same way as Williams? Another fall from grace by a powerhouse F1 team, such a shame. No top three superstar, no engine partner (only a customer deal) and no A-List title sponsor from the sounds of it. I hope Ron’s paid off that technology centre, lol.

    1. Kay says:

      Started to feel the same some time ago, but then McLaren is starting to become the British Ferrari and make their own cars to help better fund their operation. So they’ll survive better than Williams.

  31. Michael Prestia says:

    Perez = Telemex money. Enough said there.

    Bianchi should be picked up by Ferrari next year… obviously to replace Massa.

  32. Leo says:

    Perez will succeed with McLaren. Just a matter of time.

    1. Stephen Taylor says:

      Yeah a matter of time … a long long time or maybe NEVER. Perez is worse than RG at the moment and he has been shocking.

  33. ferggsa says:

    Funny how opinion on Perez was hero last year and trash after 3 races, he must be somewhere in between

    Is he the greatest driver ever? obviously not, he would have won Malaysia and Monza last year and would be beating Jenson right now

    Is he good enough for a Mac seat? probably yes, but he still has to prove so, at least by qualifying and racing close to Jenson

    Is he having problems with a difficult car to drive? definitely, probably the Sauber was slower but more driveable, flattering Perez last year and Hulk this year

    Is he a good qualifier, no, he was not in the junior series nor with Sauber, he is more race result points getter ( a bit like Jenson) and with a slow car tends to finish off the points
    I think he has more 11th places than anyone else

    Does he need to race tougher like Withmarsh says? yes defend better and cleaner, and pass safer

    Is he just another paydriver? I don’t think so, Telmex filter is quite tough, they sponsor a lot of drivers in very different series in Mexico and US, if they backed him up is because he is better than average
    On top, I understand the Mac deal brings no Telmex sponsorship (at least directly)he was hired on perceived merit at the time
    Maybe James has more insight on this?

    Did he jump to Mac to soon? Luca and myself think so, if he had stayed one more year at Sauber he would have matured more and consolidated his standing, now it seems he has more pressure than he is able to handle

    Will he improve? I certainly hope so, for Mac’s sake and his, otherwise he won’t last long

    1. Stephen Taylor says:

      You are full contradictions . If you’re saying he should have stayed at Sauber another how can he be right for the seat? As I said in one of my previous posts Sergio needs an arm round him, a mentor. I was amazed people ridiculed me for suggesting Kimi might be a good mentor.

  34. OzWatcher says:

    Webber to McLaren? Mark has made some poor choices. He should have gone to McLaren this year then would have had two more years in F1. Sadly I think it’ll be his last year in a top F1 team this year. Looks too much like he’s going to Porsche for whatever they are cooking up…

  35. aveli says:

    perez went to pass button and he was crying like a pussy. many other drivers passed button soon after perez passed him and he didn’t cry. perez also went on to pass other drivers ahead of button and they didn’t cry.
    button can only prevent perez by learning to drive better.
    looks like ron dennis wants to leave mclaren and join hamilton at mercedes.

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