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Why Sergio Perez must avoid a repeat of Heikki Kovalainen’s McLaren experience
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Posted By: James Allen  |  09 Jan 2013   |  6:07 pm GMT  |  166 comments

McLaren today officially unveiled its new driver Sergio Perez, in McLaren colours, at media events in the team’s HQ at Woking and in Central London

And the 22 year old Mexican made a bullish start, saying that he hopes to fight for the world title from the first race onwards and that he will be disappointed if he does not beat Jenson Button during their scheduled three-year partnership.

Button will start his 229th Grand Prix in Melbourne while Perez will be starting only his 38th. To have landed a McLaren seat so soon is remarkable, but Perez is mindful that he does not want to repeat Heikki Kovalainen’s experience with the team, being dropped after just two seasons with disappointing results,

“Hopefully we can have a very strong car and fight for the championship. That has to be the target,” he said this morning when speaking to BBC’s Jennie Gow.

‘I think at the moment it looks like Jenson has experience, has the team,’ Perez added. ‘He’s a great champion – the most experienced driver in the paddock now. So I think I have a lot to learn from him. And obviously I want to beat him as well. I will be disappointed if I don’t beat him. I am here to win.’

‘If you don’t expect to win you should go home. I am here to win the championship. That is the target. As a driver you always dream to drive for McLaren. To be here sitting down and giving my first interviews as a McLaren driver is a very special moment.”

Perez had an early lesson on life at McLaren when he was told to tuck his shirt in, but he says that he has already appreciated how special the feeling within the team is,

“From the outside it looks as if it might be a very cold team – very strict and very cold – but when I came here I was surprised at what a great family it is, ” he said. “I have to respond to the trust they put in me.’

As Perez used to dress at Sauber..

In Button, Perez has a very experienced team mate, who knows what it takes to win in F1, which is vital. F1 drivers tend to improve race performances with experience, so it’s likely that Button will have the edge on Sundays, but his erratic qualifying performances may offer the Mexican some opportunities to get some confidence boosting results on Saturdays. Although Perez himself has proved rather erratic in qualifying himself.

At this level, F1 is a head-game; the attention and pressure are much higher when you are expected to win, than when you over perform in a Sauber and score some podiums. Perez got a taste of this after he was announced as a McLaren driver following the Singapore Grand Prix. The signs were not encouraging; having scored 66 points up to then he failed to score another in the remaining six races.

Knowing how to cope with the expectation and what to do when things aren’t going well is what Kovalainen learned from his time at McLaren. He could not cope with Lewis Hamilton’s speed and admits he looked in the wrong place for the answers.

“Things were not going well,” Kovalainen said when reflecting on the experience, “Expectations were high and we were not able to deliver that meant that the confidence in your own ability…you were starting to ask questions; Is it my problem? My team mate is getting better results, is it my problem?'”

You can listen to what Kovalainen said about this experience on the JA on F1 Podcast , Episode 2

Perez is aware of what is expected of him and time will tell how he copes with the experience. McLaren is a team which tends to take care of all the details around the driver to eliminate problems and negatives and get the most from them. They even have a specialist engineer, whose job it is to manage everything the driver comes into contact with in the cockpit.

“I don’t feel the pressure but obviously you have to deliver here in McLaren,” Perez said. “You are coming here to deliver results, to win championships. This is the target when you come to McLaren, the best team in F1, you have to really deliver the results.”

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Let the entertainment commence...


McLaren might not be doing so much entertaining this year. At least not now Hamilton is gone.

But that's becoming a theme now for McLaren.

I couldn't imagine the highly entertaining Alonso being told to tuck his shirt in & it seems another entertaing driver, Hamilton got tired of the constrictive dress sense at McLaren too.

They really should stop looking down their nose at everybody else & start chasing down the rear end of those much more casually dressed Red Bulls (no tucking in there).


Most of those, who are an employee of a company that relies heavily on continental or global sponsors, have to do what we all have to do in even mundane jobs...behave ourselves. Turn up for work on time, be nice to the money people and pretend you are interested in their corporate days. Get the media spiel off pat etc.... and most importantly, tuck your shirt in.


I'm pretty sure Alonso, Hamilton and Raikonnen all fell in line because its what McLaren ask of their staff.

Alonso ( and Raikonnen certainly cut their hair regularly, for a start.


Once upon a time Czar Bernie wouldn't let the drivers have a beard or designer stubble (a 1980's thing!) on race weekends.......although he did let Il Lione have 3 muzzies.


Champion F1 drivers are a special group of people. Being unique certainly has qualities or habits that are different from ordinary people. I am not so sure that trying to make them conform to ordinary people is a very good idea. As long as they dress cleanly and are tidy for health reasons, let them be. We as viewers enjoy seeing drivers that do not look all the same. McLaren should rethink what they ask of their drivers.


And all 3 world champions have now left the team.

Button will never leave. In fact, he couldn't get there quick enough. Leaving the defending champion team for a team that suits his yes sir, no sir persona.

(By the way, Button is my favourite driver of those mentioned here)


I don't tend to tuck my shirt in, and i don't wear a suit, but i am self employed. If I wanted to be a racing driver in a team with McLarens record, I would do exactly what they asked me to, with good grace and without question. And when I have stopped being a racing driver I would go back to dressing how I liked.


I would do exactly the same as you.

However, it's safe to assume Alonso & Hamilton have more talent than you & I put together & they both chose to leave McLaren of their own accord.

The point I'm trying to make is maybe McLaren need to take a good look at themselves & how they go about their driver management because lately they are losing the best drivers to other teams - in Hamilton's case to arguably a lesser team with minimal chance of challenging for either championship.

Tornillo Amarillo

Is it arrogance when Whitmarsh said McLaren turn drivers (Mika, Hamilton) in Word Champions, and now they want to do it with Checo?

I think that way of thinking belittle the driver and maybe they want to give a strong message to them. IMO that's pressure.


He has a point. McLaren have a history of taking on drivers with little experience and giving them a race seat. They may not always turn out to be world champions, but some do. This seems to be the opposite approach to that of Ferrari who are only interested in drivers with several years experience in F1.


Interesting. Ferrari could take Parez away for Massa if he looks good.


To be fair, most McLaren drivers do not become World Champion with the team, so it's a fatuous comment.


Well, they didn't do it for Coulthard or Button, despite both of those driver's considerable race craft. They didn't do it for Kimi either, although he had only one season in F1 before joining McLaren.

Both Button and Kimi have nice Driver Champion trophies in their own cabinet, and neither of them came from McLaren.

Just sayin'.


Pressure, sure, but the McLaren team has consistently delivered fast cars. With fast cars the drivers are expected to deliver. Nothing more.


If they don't want to turn drivers into World Champions, why employ them?


I think Perez will find it difficult when he is expected to win every race. On a McLaren note, I think Ron Dennis is spitting his dummy out over Lewis leaving. Every chance he gets he's telling us it was his decision and they won't miss him. Let's see if Sergio can fill those big boots

Mike from Colombia

Ron Dennis came off very badly in that interview. He seems like the type of man that easily bears a grudge.

I think Perez will find the McLaren culture difficult. He really is being thrown in at the deep end.

McLaren needs speed...not tyre-whisperers.


And if the tyre-whisperers overtake the speedsters when they're in pits with their worn-out tyres?


You are right, that is how it should be. The problem is that they also need money.


If vodafone leaves F1, they will need a new sponsor.

In another world they would look for the fastest kid out there. Instead they are hiring a fast and reliable youngster, who may bring a very large sponsor. That is wise and sensible, isn't it?


McLaren turned a profit in how do they need money..???


Fast drivers come and go at McLaren; Fittipald, Hunt, Lauda, Prost, Senna, Hakkinen, Hamilton. Team McLaren continues on producing championship capable race cars as well as beautiful, exotic street cars.

Does anyone really believe one race car driver is bigger than McLaren?


No, as long as McLaren wins championships. Which they are not doing very much lately.


My point was that good drivers do come and go, but Ron wants to be the one in charge of hiring and firing. That's why a driver of Lewis' quality choosing to go has annoyed him and he wants to tell anyone who'll listen. Just look at his TV interview at the end of last season when Lewis was thinking of leaving


Read the whole transcript of the interview! RD merely said that "McLaren could have done more to keep Lewis Hamilton". Do you really think he would say anything negative about on of his companies in front of a group of businessmen?


Yes, Perez did horrible on races after he was announced for McLaren, but what about his quallifying at the end of the season? No one metions this but he beat Kobayashi 6-1 on qually on the last 7 races. I rate Kamui as a fairly good fast driver so I was impressed on how Perez evolved on speed and compared to Kobayashi.


Not really, Kamui got his podium in Japan and was unlucky in Korea but its because he knew he was losing his drive that his quali performance dropped off, Kobayashi is faster and a more exciting driver than Perez, its the sponsorship that Perez brings thats got him the better stratagies in the races and also the top drive with Mclaren, he wont win the title, dont be surprised if Fernando, Kimi and Hamilton beat him in slower cars this season, and as for challenging Vettel... no chance Sergio.


I just want to remind you that Mr Slim isnt going to sponsor McLaren, he will stay with Sauber.


Also, Sauber did favour Perez several times (in Malaysia they called Perez in for wets when Kobayashi wanted to pit).


"but its because he knew he was losing his drive that his quali performance dropped off..."

And Kamui fans wonder why their driver is out of a seat...


I completely agree. He got his wins through strategies that were couter to everyone else's, and just lucked into the result.


Perez said it himself in one of the interviews in the last few races....he was taking more risks and such because he wasn't in the position of winning any championships so he was driving harder and going for gaps and such that may have not been there.

He's a smart kid, and I think he realizes that being with a big team now he needs to find the balance between racing hard and going for the win but not taking too many dumb risks in the process.


James, any predictions how many times Perez will out qualify Button. My guess is they are going to be a lot closer than some people think so wil say 6 times.


I think he will compare well to Button in qualy, but will lose out in the races


"This is the target when you come to McLaren, the best team in F1, you have to really deliver the results.”

He's already a PR machine...

He didn't even sit in the car and he already calls McLaren the best F1 team. Well it isn't since it didn't win a championship since 1998..

Maybe someone should point that out to Perez.


2008 WDC


The best team should win the Constructors championship..


I can't think of a McLaren championship since '98 either.


1999 Haikkinen

2008 Hamilton

And second only to Ferrari in Drivers Championships


I think Button may run into some trouble with Perez. We know this is a money game. If reports of Vodafone departure are true, and McLaren want that Carlos Slim money, then they have give Carlos a stand out year he can be excited about. This man is not rich by luck and is taking a show me first approach to decide if he wants Perez to be his face and salesman to the F1 masses.

There are many interesting story lines for 2013. But this is certainly one. Button fans, may be a good idea to brace yourselves.


I think Carlos slims financial input may be exaggerated. Both in the past and the chances of input into mclaren


Is that why Perez contract is for a year? Or is it two?


I believe it's a 'multi-year contract'...


I remember reading an interview of Jaime Alguersuari, he thinks the world of Sergio. Added to your insightful points, that makes him a serious candidate for wins this year.

Of course the sponsoring by Mr.Slim is an important factor, but "Checo" is good, very good. We will see it very soon.


Not sure he does....he beat SP in British F3!


Not really seeing why it's so absurd for Alguersuari to think highly of Perez's abilities, even if he beat him in a junior category. And on the other hand, during Alguersuari's run in F1 he never managed to even put his mid-field car near the podium, let alone on it three times in one season. Not to mention a few pretty solid qualifying efforts during the year (albeit amidst a bunch of pretty average ones).


So Sergio's great, and by the way I beat him?


Yes, but Perez was in title contention despite driving for the 1 car team T-Sport and with the less fancied Mugne-Honda engines whilst Alguersuari had Carlin's better developed Mercedes engined car.


One more thing. I don't think Perez will have an experience like Kovalainen. McLaren for reasons above have a big interest in Perez success.


At 22 he is a good age for McLaren. But even if he is 'dropped' both Heikki and Lewis have managed to find drives elsewhere so perhaps he need not worry too much.


and it really worked out well for Heikki!


Well he's got a great reputation now but he's also left without a drive...


It's a finely balanced game. Rather than Heiki Kovalainen, I see more parallels with Kimi Raikonnen.

When Kimi signed for McLaren, the more sensible choice appeared to be Nick Heidfeld, but McLaren took a risk and it payed off in the long run.

I want to see McLaren and Checo succeed, so maybe I'm being overly optimistic, but even in the last six races, there were real flashes of brilliance before the mistakes: his qualifying in India; the move on Lewis in Japan; his race pace in Abu Dhabi...


Sorry but there is no comparison between Kimi and Sergio prior their McLaren joining. Unless you only keep Sergio's podiums and neglect his drive for the rest of the season.

Though Sauber was a very different car in 2001, Kimi was and is on another level.

Lucky for Perez, he now got all the tools in his hands to prove me wrong, GL to him!


SP has talent no doubt, but KR is KR, a true racer by blood. I think taking in KR at that time had less to do with money than SP now. That's just fact, especially with the possibility of Vodafone leaving.... I am not sure how I high rate SP but listening to experts (including James), they don't quite think he's World Champion material...


Perez had an early lesson on life at McLaren when he was told to tuck his shirt in


Lol, this reminds me of the good old days back in school, hopefully Mclaren's cooperate machine won't break the lad's spirit for Perez is one of those out spoken free spirits, we sure wouldn't want to see this change.

Anyway welcome and congrats to Perez for hitting the big time for drives like this don't happen everyday and most certainly not to everybody but am sure Perez will make the most of his opportunity.

Now considering that Perez's form tailed off towards the end of last season when he was confirmed as a Mclaren driver, one would have to worry

On the other hand, when one recalls his drives at Malaysia, Monza and Canada i.e. when the car was perfect, then you can see why Mclaren picked him.

Basically it's like this, with a very quick car, Perez can surely fight for the championship from the get go, taking into account his tyre saving abilities e.g. Was the only driver to make a one stop work at Australia 2011.

However, Perez doesn't look to me as a driver that can make a poor car sing so that's were the real worry will be, when things aren't perfect.

Okay, as I mentioned sometime back, south American drivers have had a good run at Mclaren.

We have had champions in the form of Fittipaldi and Aryton and it's to be noted that these two pilots bagged no less than 2 titles.

So I think Perez could be in the right place. Of course, the only exception being Juan Pablo Montoya, for who knows how much he would have achieved if he wasn't a tennis fan.


All I know is that Sergio Perez is a raw talent, he has got the hands and the speed and, most of all, he is very mature for his age. He might not be world champion this year, but he will be some time soon. I would put my money on him beating Jenson right from Melbourne. By the way, goferet, go back to your Geography lessons....


Again, Mexico is NOT in S.America, it's in N.America (its continent). If you said Latin America it would've worked.


To quote the moving feret, "as I mentioned sometime back, south American drivers have had a good run at Mclaren".

Which is a nice story except Mexico is part of North America. But I did hear he cuts his toenails from left to right which has been characteristic of those who prefer striped shirts over plaids and we know stripes are faster so...

Removing your palm reading, I do agree with your overall assessment that Perez has got what it takes to win a championship in a fast car. Whether he would be able to pull off an Alonso 2012 vintage season is a waste of time to consider because even FA himself would wonder if he was capable of that at age 22.


Only one problem Goferet, when did Mexico migrate to South America????


Andale, andale, chico! Personally I think JB's mind control will get to him in the first year, and he'll only shine on occasion. But from 2014 onwards, I think JB better watch his back!


"Perez had an early lesson on life at McLaren when he was told to tuck his shirt in,..", James, brilliant humor. I'm still chuckling as I write.

That quote is "front row/podium" material. Thanks,



I don't think Perez will be treated quite as much as a number 2 driver alongside button as kovi was alongside Lewis. Ron treated Lewis differently, now with MW and JB there, although there is a clear friendship, I don't see the protectiveness in anything like the Ron and Lewis show.


Meanwhile, I have noticed a peculiar record at Mclaren over recent years i.e. The driver that welcomes another into the Mclaren family, usually ends up leaving

For instance:

a) Lauda welcomed Prost to the team back in the 80s and ended up retiring after winning his 3 title

b) Prost welcomed Aryton to Mclaren and ended up leaving

c) Mika welcomed Coulthard to Mclaren and ended up retiring pre-maturly

d) Coulthard welcomed Kimi to Mclaren and ended up getting the boot in favour of Montoya

e) Kimi welcomed Montoya and they both left

f) Alonso welcomed Lewis to Mclaren (as he was confirmed to race for the team before Lewis) and left early

g) Lewis welcomed Jenson to Mclaren and also had to leave.

h) And now, Jenson welcomes Perez


I'm not sure that's so peculiar. Apart from a couple of odd exceptions, your observation is essentially that the older man leaves the team first.

The only thing I would conclude from the lack of examples of the younger/less experienced driver leaving first, is that McLaren have been reasonably good at avoiding hiring drivers who turned out to be disappointing.


I don't know why, but I somehow see Maldonado joining Perez at McLaren in a couple of years.


Interesting information. Guess it's coincidental. Anyway F1 has too many stats and info which is very good for the sport.

unF1nnished business

Lewis welcoming Heikki didn't pan out that way.


Nice notice))

So there is a potential seat for another rookie alongside Perez in the nearest future.


Hamilton welcomed Kovalainen....


Yes but because of the psychology of a F1 Hamilton probably thought he had the measure of Kovalainen.


that is a good catch


Great observation. I can easily see Perez beating Button, Vodafone leaving and Button going to RBR if\when Webber leaves.

I sometimes think I'm the only person who thinks Button isn't all that great. He's probably the second luckiest driver in F1 after Vettel.


At least Vettel can still deliver somewhat when he isn't getting the rub of the green...Button was in the midfield for a stretch midseason, appalling at times. Perez, aldo failed to even score after inheriting 1 point from Webber in Singapore. It'll be very tough for this Mclaren lineup to challenge Vettel/Red Bull, Raikkonen/Lotus or Alonso/Ferrari.


If the forum posts of most are considered you are in the majority. It's hard to read more than two or three posts on any F1 site without JB getting ripped into.


" Sergio ! Tuck your shirt !" - wow ! In this age and time is that a contributing factor for success ? After all, Mclaren don't have much to show for all their "discipline" in the last 13 years . No wonder Kimi,Montoya,Alonso and Lewis Hamilton couldn't stand the Macca environment anymore.


What a load of McLaren seno phobic nonsense!


Can you imagine if someone told you to tuck your shirt in? Have you ever even seen a shirt tucked in on a zombie?

Here is an example of Not Allowed at McLaren:

Jeans! Headphone cords! Shirt untucked! And are those off-color non-uniform shoes even Pumas?! Sorry Sebastian, you don't fit in at McLaren.


Nice to see someone else has noticed all the Vettel to Ferrari columns have never mentioned his possibly moving to McLaren. With both Lewis and Jenson winning races last year isn't McLaren still a top team? How long does Button's contract run? Just curious.


How you can say that, James, that any midfield driver or lower will kill vor a Mclaren drive? After 40 years Mclaren is more than a top-team. Mclaren has the best resources and the best facilities. They are better than Ferrari. Ferrari has only the tradition. Mclaren Automotive, Mclaren Applied Technologies, Mclaren Technology Center, has much more potential THAN EVERYTHING exist or will ever exist in Maranello. So much technology, so much perfection, this is MCLAREN. No other company in Europe has Mclaren appeal for the finest level of engineering and inovation. Whatever, the best drivers on the grid are dreaming for a Mclaren seat. The future belongs to this powerfull force which is the Mclaren Group. A top driver will always dream for a Mclaren dream, now, BUT especially in the future, because Ferrari is clearly fading, and Newey will not be forever in F1. And after that, you will see how strong are the Mclaren resources. Red Buss has a tactical dominance, but Mclaren has a stragical dominance. On the long-terman Mclaren is winning.


Exactly, that's why any driver would want to go there...!


McLaren is a top team. It's just never openly assumed that a driver wants to move to there, rather that they [McLaren] cherry-pick their drivers.

It might well be the case, but when you look at the top three teams in F1, you have Ferrari (the classic team), McLaren (the consumate, clinical professionals) and the flavour of the moment 'winning' team (currently Red Bull Racing, nee Williams, 'Enstone', BMW, Brawn).

Drivers always seem to *want* to go to either Ferrari or the nebulous 'winning team', never McLaren.


Not sure about that. Any midfield driver or lower would kill for a chance to drive for McLaren


That is the perfect example as to why I don't like mclaren. They have people like robots and don't let them live. That's probably one of the reasons Lewis and kimi and Fernando have left in the last 7 years althought obviously results aswell.


It's Ron Dennis' philosophy and it's understandable. Dennis is hunting for every bit of perfection, and he wants that everything reflects that. He wants the words "sloppy", "deranged", "messiness", "untidyness", "casual" or "carelessness" or "easy going" and alike deleted from the brains of his staff, at least during their working hours. What they see, what they hear, what they do and how they do it should all reflect and show perfection and attention to detail. From this mindset, someone who runs around with his shirt untucked and untied shoes, for example, would mean that a certain sloppyness was acceptable in this company. No it isn't. From Dennis' perspective nothing may be sloppy, not in the mildest form. Ron Dennis is the Adrian Monk of motorsport. It's what makes him successful.


And Ferrari do not impose tight controls on their drivers do they? Jean Todt?

Kimi was treated far better at McLaren than Ferrari....excpet that Ferrari have the money to keep Kimi's mouth quiet on how badly he was treated!

And remind me how long Lewis been with McLaren?

And Alonso contrbuted to his own downfall at McLaren.


I expect the McLaren car may be the fastest on the grid initially so Perez will have to hit the ground running. That said he will have the winter testing experience to settle in, and get a feel for the new car. It's important for a driver, even an experienced one, to build gradually towards the fastest lap intially so they understand how the car reacts in any given situation. Well we can only wish him well, and I expect when settled, he will be a force to be reckoned with.


"Perez had an early lesson on life at McLaren when he was told to tuck his shirt in, "

What did Gérard Lopez from Lotus say?

Oh yes! "We want drivers, not robots".

He was right, so right...

McLaren is such an extraordinary team with the potential to win almost every championship and they keep wasting so much energy in trying to control petty details.

I have long ago given up any hope of ever understanding what pushes them down that path.

If at least it worked, but it doesn't, one driver's title in the last 13 years.

Anybody got a clue?


I agree, how much longer can they continue to push the petty details when the whole reason they're there (championships) continue to slip away year after year


Really? Asking a driver to present himself is the reason the championships slip away?

If you listen to Sam Michael on the podcast, the chasing of the minute detail was the cause for the operational cock-ups in the pits, but once refined to a smoothbore finish, McLaren were constantly beating everyone in the pits, by the order of a second.

I think we'll see more mistakes from other teams next year as they try and make up time in the pits to catch the Woking boys.

If you want a more wide-reaching comparison, Red Bull Racing were crap from 2006-2008. The reason? Adrian Newey & Rob Marshall were tearing the team apart behind the scenes sorting the problems out. He [Adrian] has openly admitted he spent just as much, if not more time focused on rebuilding their facilities than building the cars.


I personally think it has to do with their global image. Think about it, Ferrari is the passionate brand with all of its tifosi. McLaren have set themselves up to be in contrast to that - a technologicaly advanced and futuristic brand that would not look out of place in an Ironman or X-Men movie. look at their hq, their motorhome, their livery. All clinical, all super clean, like a futuristic film set. You can't blame them for expecting their drivers to be part of the team message by tucking their shirts in. And by the way it's exactly why Fernando started his McLaren season with a clean shaven head and by the end of the season he not only had long fuzzy hair but q beard to match. It was his way of rebeling against Ron's vision as a team.

I for one like the sci-fi clean image of McLaren because it's futuristic and aspirational. Just like you constantly clean your iPhone so it stays looking squeaky clean like in the ads you saw, so does McLaren want their people constantly looking their best.


I understand your point and I respect your opinion. However never was McLaren more successful than in 1988 when the MP4/4 won 15 out of 16 races. The engineer was Gordon Murray, well that is how he looked then (take a deep breath...):

I am sure you would trade futuristic image for track success.


Well, that look was more suiting the 80s.

Back then, long hair/mullets were cool and tobacco sponsorship was rife - it carried a rugged image as a result. Around the mid-90s, the attention changed to technological/blue chip companies and they wanted a more cleaner image to suit them.

The shavers/clippers soon followed.


I'm sure most tragic 80's fans will look at that and think it's all class, lol!

But fair enough point, success above all else.


and that's probably why they chose to get rid of Lewis. Not up to the mark, image wise.

think i'd have done he same if truth be told.


Yeah, Lewis is a talent and a half no doubt, but he just didn't never really fit, did he?

I wouldn' be surprised in Mercedes' squeaky clean image may also pose a problem. Lotus with it's attitude towards drivers would have been a good fit for him but I'm sure the cars just arent quick enough. Red Bull... Shame for Lewis Vettel came along hey?


Interesting James. I hope he copes at McLaren.

On the subject of coping with pressure, what do you make of Helmut Marko's comments about Webber? Mark seems comfortable in his own skin not to worry about such comments, but it seems a very odd thing to say about one of your team's own drivers. What have Red Bull got to complain about? He's helped deliver three constructors championships and not got in the way of wonder boy Vettel's drivers championships. If he'd performed like Massa over the last few years they might have a point (and two fewer championships).


Old time F-1 and sports car driver Marko is correct on this one. Webber has too often managed to find a way to lose. And how about the 2012 Brazilian GP where Webber almost helped Ferrari's Alonso to the championship? Would any team tolerate this behavior of their driver in the final race of the championship? I think not. If Mark is going to take Red Bull's money he should work for Red Bull.


Watch the first corner in Brazil again. Webber by boxing Vettel out caused him to lose positions that led to his clash with Senna that nearly cost him the title.

If Massa had done this to Alonso it would have been more than the remote control being thrown through the tv from monti!!


Good luck to Sergio.

It is a brave (?) move my McLaren. I will be extremely surprised if he does do well. I am not convinced by his level of talent so far, and I think more likely than not, he will be another Kovalainen - an occasional noteworthy performance perhaps, but I'm sure we will end up saying, "What were McLaren thinking?".


Regards Heiki Kovalainen.

In my arm chair opinion, people like Heiki aren't cut out to be sports people for his character isn't that of a winner.

No offense to Heiki but he looks like somebody that lacks fire in his belly and worse still looks like the timid/shy type and as we know, those aren't the qualities of a take-no-prisoners athlete (FYI top athletes should look and act like samurais/savages)

So me thinks Heiki's time at Mclaren (maybe even in formula 1) was always bound to end in failure all because of his personality.


Heikki is not a nice guy when he's driving. He's not the same person. Anyway, Häkkinen wasn't much of a warrior and still was 2x WDC, wasn't he?


And the ice cream man - sorry, I mean iceman - Kimi hardly fits into the savage mould either. The Finns invariably have reserved personalities but it has never stopped them being tremendous racing drivers.


I agree with the OP, with both Kimi & Mika you could see that they were passionate & had that self belief.

Heiki just didn't make me believe that he could do the job expected of him, his body language all the time was of a man with little self belief.

Even with Mika, when he 1st came to McLaren he wasn't that great but you could see that his form annoyed him. You just never got that defiance from Heiki. When things were going bad, his head would go down and he would act meek.

You can guarantee that if Kimi or Mika were in the same situation as Heiki over the 2 years he was with McLaren, that at some point they would have stropped & gave an angry response to something. You never got that from Heiki.

I think Heiki finally broke Ron's Finn fetish. 🙂


One of Whitmarsh's reasons for picking Chico was his "giant-killing performances" in 2012. Yet looking back on the season there is just one true giant-kill I recall: Maldonado's defeat of Ferrari in Barcelona...


I guess there-in lies the crux. Performances (plural), not Performance.


i still think they should've picked hulk


Hmm... I wonder what are the odds of Perez crashing out during the Monaco Grand Prix weekend.

Talk about the ultimate bogey track.


Interesting insight

Agree completely that the head game seems so important at this top level. It will be difficult for Perez to perfect this in such a short time in the same way that Vettel has seemed to. In some respects I feel that not even Hamilton or Webber have mastered this yet.

I think that Perez should be ok because he is facing Button not Hamilton. Hamiton has sheer talent and is very very fast so he will tend to beat most team mates.

Button is not as quick, but arguably seems more consistent.

Perez will probably bring the speed and will be faster for a good share of the time, but less consistent, allowing him to play more the role that Hamilton used to in the team


Has Vettel mastered the head game, or does he just ignore it (off track anyway).

On track, he has a habit of snowballing if things don't work out.


What I find interesting about this pairing is that they have picked the racer who is probably the closest in terms of driving style to Button.

1 of the problems that the Lewis & Jenson partnership had was that their driving styles were completely different.

Jenson having the more progressive style of driving took care of his tyres but also found it difficult to get the sweet spot in terms of temperature which he would struggle with all last season.

Lewis with the more aggressive driving style didn't really have problems getting his tyres up to peak temperature but would go through tyres a lot quicker which would compromise his race strategy.

I felt was the car was developed to suit Lewis and this hindered Jenson.

Now that both drivers have a similar style I think this will help the team be more consistent. The jury is still out on Perez but 1 thing we know he is good at is managing his tyres and I think in the current Formula 1 getting the tyres working optimally is crutial to being consistent.


I've always thought that the so called "Lewis not able to managed his tyres" was a legend. If we've learnt something the last 2 years is that Lewis managed his tyres as well if not better than Jenson.

If you had looked closely this season, Lewis was mostly pitting later than Jenson. Lewis actually understands his tyres perfectly.

I don't know where this came from but it's all wrong, it's a myth. Jenson's way of driving did not give him an advantage over Lewis. Jenson was among the people that understood the least those pirelli tyres. Couldn't make them last and could get them to temperature.


Yeah - I feel this is definitely part of the reason they chose him


hey, they got rid of hamilton. they don't want the replacement guy to copy him. this year they want to win stuff!


If they wanted to win with Hamilton, they should given him a more reliable car and team in 2012. Without all the mechanical and operational problems, Lewis would have been in a very good position to challenge for the title.


You kept using the word 'got rid'...i think you are trying hard to convince yourself that hamilton fired by mclaren...


I hope he does brilliantly, best of luck to him.


I believe they took the wrong Sauber driver. I think if Kobayashi was British, Brazilian or German he would have landed a top drive a year ago. He scored more points than Perez over two years, and is now gone from F1. Perez is now at 'the best team in F1' (when it comes to having your shirt tucked in, they are the best. Not so good at winning titles these days, but presentation is important). But, I rate Sergio too. Considering that Button has scored one pole position in three years at McLaren, I'd say Perez will have no problems out-qualifying him. In the races, it will be closer, but I think he'll score more points overall than Jenson, and can win the championship for McLaren in 2014.


Jenson scored more points than Lewis over the 3 years they spent together.

It's also worth mentioning that whilst he's only got a single pole position at the team, he's started several races from the number two spot, right behind Hamilton.


Kamui would've probably been a better fit at Lotus than McLaren, if purely for poetic reasons. - The little guy with not much money, beating the odds and punching above his weight.

Would've been a nice story to tell.


Hi James,

Perez has received a lot of praise for his natural talent when it comes to tyre management and understanding - this is obviously also a skill that Button is associated with.

From a car development point of view, this has to be a big positive for McLaren to have two drivers of similar style. Once they knew Hamilton was leaving and had to find a replacement, would they have considered something like this, or were they simply looking for what they thought was their best option available?


Possibly, but I think there were multiple reasons - pace, promise, commercial considerations, comparison with who else was available etc


but mclaren knew hamilton was leaving before lewis did. we shouldn't forget this.


McLaren made Lewis an offer. Lewis could have accepted that offer and stayed with McLaren. That is fact!

How does this tie in with your statement? It doesn't because you made it up.


No, Mclaren made plans in case LH decided to leave. It was interesting to hear MW say "We want people who want to drive for McLaren". I could be wrong, but it appeared that the writing was on the wall! Lewis's decision to leave was influenced when he decided to tweet information during the Spa weekend. Prior to that point I believe that McLaren thought they would have LH in the car for 2013. Quite simply,the trust between both parties was probably at its lowest point.


I'm in the camp that Perez will be just fine. I think he is better prepared and also a better driver than Heiki. Also, in Button he doesn't have blistering pace to worry about. Sure, Button has great qualities but it is pace that will effect Perez's confidence and Button won't do that.

I would expect Button to come out on top but I won't be putting any money on it. Perez's performance at the end of last year is not a worry it is natural to dip off as he mentally prepares for the next test in his career.


Its hard to see Perez as something special given that he was routinely out qualified by his teamate this year. The real emerging talent this year was definitelty Grosjean. He showed tremendous raw speed. I'm sure sponsorship factored into this decision.


Obviously the driver choice is the result of all factors being considered, to think otherwise is daft.

Grosjean and Maldonado both showed some amazing speed, but both showed immense stupidity at other times. Not just crashing, but reckless, brain off cretinous moves that are serious question marks over their characters.


Routinely outqualified by his team mate? As far as I know, it was exactly even between them, and that includes Perez starting from the back at Monaco from what I vaguely recall as his car failing on him and putting him in the wall. Before that, he was looking pretty quick at Monaco. In Australia as well from memory, he didn't get to set a time after Q3 due to a gear box problem. KK may have had some similar quali problems (I don't recall), but the point is more that the two of them were pretty even in terms of who out-quali'd who. And on a couple of KK's great quali performances, like Belgium and Suzuka, SP was right up there with him.

As for Grosjean, SP was just a few seconds behind RG in Canada on their brilliant one stop strategies, with RG having started I think 7 or 8 places in front. And on RG's day off in the naughty corner, SP showed some pretty mighty pace in Monza as he took down everyone but Hamilton (with his team mate starting a few places in front on the grid dropping one spot in the race).

Certainly RG showed speed more consistently through the season than SP (and both had their share of silly incidents too), but given the performance by both Sauber drivers was fairly up and down throughout the season, possibly it was at least partly down to their car not performing as consistently as the Lotus from circuit to circuit.

All that said, I'm keen to see what both SP and RG can do next year. They both seem very talented to me, and both have their own points to prove this year. Hopefully SP will show it was more a case of the Sauber being inconsistent than his own driving, and hopefully the Lotus will be that little bit more competitive (especially in quali) and RG will be able to keep out of incidents (including other people driving into or across the front of him). They're paired up with two very experienced WDC drivers (two of the best clean wheel-to-wheel racers out there), so hopefully the SP and RG will learn that little bit more and show more consistent and polished performances. =)


It is too early to speculate now. I know if I was given a great opportunity to be in a prestigious team, I will put in the extra mile each and every time.

I expect Perez to do the same. So I expect him to be at least on par with Button or beat him (since Perez is filling Hamilton's seat).

Lets see if he can do it.


As long as Button is at McLaren, Perez shouldn't have any worries. Button is always struggling to set up his car.

Scuderia McLaren

If reports on the new gen of Pirelli's are to be believed, then the nature of the tires will move towards Button and away from Perez.

What I mean by that is the issues Button had with getting the tires ready for quali will be less apparent. His weakness will be less of a factor.

Conversly, the strength Perez had with maintaining old tyres for many many laps at solid pace will be over.

If we are heading back to a time of more pitstops, more degredation, sprint racing with wide working range tires in terms of heat, I think this tire formula goes right up the alley of Button, Raikkonen and Massa.

It goes away from Perez and Alonso (known for heating his tyres very well).


I thought Sergio & Kamui's problems in qualifying were down to the Sauber not heating its tyres effectively, essentially given them the same issue as Button?


I think you read that here!!

It seems that could be the case, but we will find out during testing.

Scuderia McLaren

James, I think you just "+1'd" me. If so, thanks.



Did Jamie Alguersuari not give you any inside info on this?

Also will you be returning with him in the Radio 5 Live commentary box?


Lewis is not in McLaren anymore, Jenson doesn't have the same raw pace as Lewis, so this won't happen to Sergio.


I can't hold my tongue anymore....MY GOODNESS those are beautiful F1 cars behind that tucked-in Perez. You know you've got a flawless design when 25 years on it still looks DA BOMB! ...even out of focus.


Hard to imagine that Perez will get the job done but he's one of few drivers who ever got the real opportunity to show their mettle in a top car.

I still feel Hamilton made a huge judgement error leaving a team of this caliber and heritage. I really wouldn't like to be in his helmet if he scores less points than Perez next season....or worse would be for him to watch Button take the WDC


Was it Ron Dennis that told him to tuck his shrt in lol ? If it was Kimi- hd would have told him to f:off.

Chekko saying he does not feel the pressure is all well & good- but he hasn't started racing yet!- and if he's not winning- only then will he know what pressure is.

Sergio is not in the same position as Heikki was because very few people could go wheel to wheel with Hamilton whereas with Button most can. What he does need to watch is Buttons team leadership and willingness/ or lack thereof to help him share car set up etc in the early stages while Sergio is finding his own way.


Being my Fav team it was sad to see Lewis go and equally surprised that Perez got the go ahead. Wishing him good luck and me thinks that Nico Hulkenberg would have been a better choice.


Nice picture, anybody else feel like Perez is being led like a lamb to the slaughter.


Any talk of a Vodafone exit for 2013 was dispelled yesterday. Sergio was wearing 2013 teamwear, which also seemingly features no Mexican additions.

I wish Sergio all the best, but don't seriously see him mounting a consistent challenge. No doubt there will be flashes of excellence, but more than that, I'm not convinced.

If Mclaren had hoped to lure Honda back to the sport I think Kamaui would have been a good call. I know he was a Toyota man but still. Jenson and Kamaui for a 2014 Honda return would have been very well received in Japan!


The 2013 car and sponsor package hasn't been launched yet. Vodafone is still there in 2013, though.

Watch for Mexican additions as we go along.


I do have a off topic question about what Ecclestone said about F1 can lose another team as long it is not Ferrari. And i don`t need this Micky Mouse analyse about being the soul of F1.

James, can you tell me the facts and numbers behind Ecclestone words. Because last year i had impression that "they" wanted to play championships into Ferraris hands.


Perez is a talented driver like Button. hamilton, Alonso and Vettel are god gifted drivers. I'm telling you guys now Mclaren will not be the force people think. Hamilton was the bencem ark there because he would do a time 4 tentsh quicker tahn button and then the team would know where the acr is at and Button could push to get that time. Without that bench mark Button will be unable to push to greater limits because the limit will be what time he is setting.

Anyhow with the new mercedes W04 with the the areo whizz Mike Elliot and designer Aldo costa knwon for his cars being gentle on their tyres Mercedes are a huge under-dog. hamilton will be able to push with a car with lower tyre degradation.


Where does the name "Checko" come from? I can't see how it is linked to "Sergio" or "Perez"?


It comes from a slightly variation on pronounciation of Sergio as a name. Small children (at least in Spanish speaking countries, I would believe in English speaking countries as well) have problems producing some word-sounds when they are very little. It is usual that a small kid pronounces Checo instead of Sergio when they are little. And then most of the Sergios in Mexico are called Checo as a nickname.


"Checo" is just a nickname for "Sergio", not specific to Sergio Perez.


Michael Schumacher' teutonic character would've fit in Mclaren like a 'T'. I wonder why he refused reported 6 offers from Ron Dennis in the 90s and 2000s ?

Scuderia McLaren

1: Money

2: Personal sponsorship flexibility (Money)

3: Willi Weber


Its interesting that Perez refers to McLaren as "Jenson's Team". 3 years ago Jenson was refering to it as "Lewis' Team". Could we be talking about "Sergio's Team" by the end of 2015?


Button will be 35 by then so it's certainly possible.


Well McLaren do seem to have trouble maintaining drivers on their team (Hamilton, Alonso ... etc), so yeah I wouldn't be surprised if it is "Sergio's Team" by 2015.


So is SP faster than LH? I don't think so, Lewis is one of the fastest ever, up there with Senna, Kimi and Vettel

Is SP an average pay driver, I don't think so, he would not have challenged Alonso in Malaysia, finish behind Lewis in Monza, and pass Lewis in Suzuka in a midfield car (even if he only managed it once)

Is he a better driver than all of us writing in this site? (James Allen included)he definitely is

James mentioned in the race report that Sauber lost Malaysia to Alonso with a conservative strategy and slow pit stops, and his big mistakes (not passing Alonso for the lead, and driving off course in Suzuka probably would have not happened if Sauber had managed to send him back ahead where he was before pit stops)

I think in a faster car, with sharper team work, he will perform better (it is also easier to avoid cutthroat midfield fights that lead to mistakes)

He also needs to develop himself quickly into a faster, more consistent driver to win races, get pole positions, score points regularly and retain his job at McLaren

Will he be able to do that? Neither Whitmarsh, nor James Allen, nor myself know that, we all have to wait and see

I can only wish him good luck because that would give us all a good racing season to watch


Sorry to reply myself

Will SP tuck his shirt? He will (I would also ask him to shave)

Will he get a girlfriend like Nicole? I hope not, at least not for the next 2-3 years


I think its Jenson who is under pressure, Perez only need prove he is still quick for now - Button has to out qualify and out place him, no hiding place.(the shadow of Hamilton is gone.

It'll be interesting to see how Mclaren do this coming season - Buttons record as a tire whisperer when considered is more myth than truth, with Lewis making tires perform better last season - Perez knows how to set a car up to use tires too.

Me thinks we could be seeing the birth of a new superstar in parez, if he comes close to performing in the Mclaren as he did in the early part of last season in the Sauber he'll not only blow Jenson away he'll become a real contender.


If she does beat Button, then Jensons rep will be in tatters, the championship a fluke and that is all.


Erk, this is painful to see. I really hope Hamilton knows what he's doing. How can anyone give up a McLaren seat for Mercedes. The fact that Haug has quit citing poor results is a very, very worrying sign indeed.

Short of a miracle at Mercedes I can only hope Hamilton has an exit clause and can get back to Blighty in 2014.


I'd argue that Perez's signing for McLaren is not as remarkable as it's being portrayed.

In 1996 they signed DC, who had 25 races to his credit. Indeed they would have signed him for 95 (when he had just 8 races) but the CRB ruled that Williams were entitled to his services.

Their next signing was Kimi Raikkonen in 2002. KR had just one season behind him - 17 races.

Since then McLaren have signed some experienced drivers (Alonso, Montoya, Button) but also Hamilton (no races) and Kovalainen (1 season, 17 races) in 2007 and 2008.

So McLaren signing a driver who is light on experience is not really that unusual.


What everyone is forgetting is that Perez did all his shining in the period when few teams understood the tyres. As soon as other teams got a better understanding of the 2012 tyres, the real Perez stood up and it wasn't a pleasant sight.

I'm afraid Ferrari's summation of his driving abilities are bang on the money. Except McLaren have a miracle to unleash, they have locked themselves in a room with two drivers that cannot fight for regular wins. The more experienced Jenson needed to copy Lewis setup and driving style to get off the road to nowhere in 2012 and Perez is proving to have a disastrous nervous tick.

What is happenning to McLaren?


Simple as this: A F1 Driver relies 100% on the performance of his car. If you sit Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton or Kimi in a Marussia what do you think is going to happen?... Its REALLY A SHAME the car that McLaren is offering this year to his great drivers. Who can win with a piece like that?... In the other hand, sit a medium driver like Hulkenberg, Sutil or Grosjean in a RedBull and they will kick ass more than once...

Ist a shame for McLaren.


It is always a sad sight to see such a committed and driven person that has put so much into a company driven from his passion. McLaren would never have been what they are without his leadership and insistence on the highest of standards in everything.
Most journalists contributing to this story or the proof readers are testament to that as there are so many typos and bad grammar that would not be in anything sent out be a Ron Dennis type individual. Some would say it does not matter that much as mistakes happen but that is why Ron Dennis built the company that is the McLaren you see today, IT DOES MATTER. Most that worked for him would probably say in hindsight he made them do better than they would have done without his OCD. Good Luck Ron.

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