Has Perez saved his McLaren drive for 2014 with impressive Indian GP performance?
Posted By: James Allen  |  28 Oct 2013   |  5:50 pm GMT  |  86 comments

Mexican driver Sergio Perez says he is confident he will remain with McLaren for a second season in 2014, following an impressive drive to fifth in the Indian Grand Prix.

The 23-year-old ran deep into the race on the medium tyres and then performed a brilliant pass on Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen in the same move to secure fifth at the Buddh International Circuit – his best result of the season.

McLaren have yet to officially announce their line-up for next year, McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has said he expects to field the same two drivers next year and sporting director Sam Michael also hinted at an unchanged line up this weekend, but rumours have persisted in recent weeks that the team has been looking around.

Britain’s Jenson Button has effectively said he’s staying at the team for a fifth season, however, Perez’s future has remained uncertain following an uninspiring year.

Perez has scored just 33 points to his team-mate’s haul of 60, scoring points on eight occasions while Button has been in the points 12 times in 16 races.

But the Mexican remains bullish about his hopes of staying at the Woking-based team. “I am confident I will stay here,” he said. “I haven’t seen the need to go after any other team. I expect to come back with this team.”

Sam Michael refused to comment on the team’s plans for next year in terms of drivers but admitted: “[Button and Perez] have carried the company really well throughout that period, we’re really happy with the job that they’ve both done.

“As Martin has said a few times before, the most likely thing is that these will be our two race drivers for next year.”

And Michael added that Perez has now started to deal much better with the pressures of driving for a top team.

“I think Sergio’s focus now is really good,” said Michael. “He’s doing all the right things, he’s keeping his head down. He’s focusing on delivering in the remaining races for this year and that’s what a professional racing driver does.”

McLaren has yet to score a podium this season in 16 races. If they reach the end of the season without a top three finish it would be the first time since 1980. They have scored just 93 points, less than one quarter of the points they scored last season.

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That may well be right, but: a) JB is rated in the paddock- look at recent annual performances compared to Hamilton, and b) you would have to give a raw driver like Perez another year before you write him off in the way that Heiki was.


I know it will be very hard to beliave in me, but Sergio Perez already sign the extension for 2014. very close sources in mexico already know.


F1 is fickle.


As much as I despised his driving in Monaco and a few other races Perez definitely deserves a chance- he would have learned alot about how to work in the big team and he will only be stronger when they have a better car.

Were it not for the 2014 reset I would be dropping Jenson for Hulkenberg. Magnussen will be their gun in 2015 when Honda comes in, but they must produce a decent 2914 – I think Sergio will be stronger.


‘F1 Racing’ magazine said that Martin Whitmarsh signing of Perez was his sole decision, and before the team ran the “drivers profile” through MacLaren’s database – I didn’t know they had one.

The article said Whitmarsh was keen to give Sergio a second year, but the rest of the team was not.

So against that background, I don’t think this fifth place and the haul of points will be quite enough to save his seat. If he gets a podium in the next three races, and saves them from a podium-less season, that could save his drive.

Far as I’m concerned, Vettel will win all the races, so I’m not even going to bring that to the table.


Pretty new to commenting on this site although I’ve been reading for a while, I don’t like getting into internet arguments. But I’ll give it a try here since this community seems rather constructive and non-abusive.

So, first-off I will say that Perez is my countryman, let’s get that out of the way. That also makes me biased towards Gutierrez. I do think you’ll forgive that since most of the Brits seem to be biased towards Button and Lew.

At any rate… I have to take objection with the “if he gets a podium in the next three races” bit. Why would we have to hold up SP to that standard when JB hasn’t managed to do that either? I realize JB has more pedigree, in part because of that fluke year but it’s not like he’s a massive talent: after all, he did take the second most starts before becoming World Champion. What was his previous best Driver’s Championship result? 3rd for BAR. I remember commentators speaking of him in less than flattering terms during that championship year, but everything changed once he was crowned.

To summarize… why would JB get a pass on a year-best 5th and be given credit for the bad luck (which I totally agree with) in India but SP gets to have his 5th dismissed as not-enough to keep a job and not any credit for his larger run of bad luck? Bear in mind I’m not excusing some of his self-inflicted wounds, but there are clearly several examples of ill-timed pit stops, strategy decisions and others (like a bad car) that are not his fault.


Buenos dias.

Why SHOULD JB get a pass on a year-best 5th?

He shouldn’t.

Why WOULD JB get a pass on a year-best 5th?

Because Jenson is Martin Whitmarsh’s Golden Boy.

In my view, Lewis got thrown under a bus to make Jenson look good.

The ‘F1 Racing’ article went further, explaining that Lewis was faster than Button, better at setup, and could show what could be achieved with the car, and Button, on seeing what was possible, is good at matching Lewis.

You may have forgotten, but Sergio was brought in as a replacement for Lewis. Not merely as a second driver in the Webber and Massa vein, but as someone who was fast, and could consistently be near the front, so that when Jenson has his slow races with no grip, he could see his team-mate doing better in the same machinery do better, and up his game.

Perez’ early 2012 successes, before he signed with MacLaren, even I thought, ‘this is a giant-killer; I don’t get why Ferarri don’t want him’.

In short, weird as it may sound, the team need Sergio to be better than Button, to show what can be done, but over a season, for Button to get better results.


We gave the Frenchman a couple of seasons grace and look at what he is turning out to be! I say let the kid have a bit more time.

But I agree with all the people lamenting Kob not being on the grid.


Maybe I’m wrong, but it gives me the impression that Sam willcontradict himself, which he tends to do.


McLaren should stop mucking around with the driver line up and deal with the real issue. Sam Micheal.


Sam Michael doesn’t have much to do with the car though, he the Sporting Director. Race strategy, pit stops, keeping drivers happy and so on I’d imagine are his problems. 2012 was not a good year for pit stops for him.

McLaren have lost Paddy Lowe and Pat Fry and are basically resorting to trying to poach Newey’s lieutenants sometime in the vague future.


Perez out.

Alonso in.

But not right now. Does Mac have good car designer today?


Would be 1 of the most ridiculous decisions Alonso is a destructive agent anywhere he goes.


A race alone doesn´t save a driver season, even a former great team like Mclaren is looking for more than a 5th place. Like i said before Mclaren is not a top team anymore. They´ve lost their best drivers to other teams and their best technical people to other teams. They´ve lost vodafone and santander. They are a sinking ship and it doesn´t look good.

Alexander Supertramp

I thought F1 was cutthroat? Can’t believe major heads haven’t rolled at Macca after the recent poor years. A lot of people will have to prove their worth in 2014 if they want to be part of the Honda era.


IIt’s hard to fire too many people when they all get poached by Mercedes before you get chance 😉


But those “major heads” are also shareholders in the team…


McLaren should have in their payroll just top drivers as Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton or Kimmi. I am sure that McLaren lost in 2013 “room” in the international media with their actual drivers pair lack of “charisma”. McLaren International is a powerful brand and must to be linked with powerful drivers name even if the car is not doing well. Its hard to forget names as Fittipaldi, Hunt, Lauda, Prost, Senna, Hakkinnen,Hamilton.The Woking base team deserve better than this.


Mclaren made all those drivers you mention without a fast car that X-factor does not happen if Mclaren come out with a dominant car both drivers would have the X-factor.


I’d keep Perez because he’ll probably improve again next year, he’s got closer to Button as the season has progressed, and he brings a lot of that Mexican money to the team.

Instead I’d fire Button and bring in someone like Hulkenberg. Button isn’t a number one driver, he’s not someone who can realistically challenge the likes Vettel. I’d be daring and put Hulkenberg in Button’s seat.

I really don’t think there’s a lot of downside because you’re not a realistic chance of winning the drivers championship with Button leading the charge unless McLaren can produce a car with an advantage like Brawn had in the first half of 09.


Smart money says they fire their world champion driver who is out scoring and out qualifying the younger guy – that makes a lot of sense…


Sure he is, but Perez brings money into the team is likely to at least match Button in terms of performance next year. You’re not going to win a championship with Button or Perez as your number one. Why not take a chance with Hulkenberg. If it doesn’t work out you fire one of them and bring in Alonso when it comes to tears at Ferrari.

Yes, Button won a championship but he built that championship on the massive car advantage he had in the first half of 2009. If you take out Button’s win from the first half of 2009 his record in F1 is worse than Felipe Massa’s which is saying something.


“So You can foresee Perez suddenly overtaking Button next year? That’s sort of dismissing evidence isn’t it?”

He’s essentially on par with Button in terms of pace. Whether or not he’s slightly faster or slightly slower than Button I don’t think it matters.

Perez brings money to the team, he has upside whereas Button will probably never be a better driver than he is now, plus neither of them are number one drivers. I’d make Hulkenberg number one and have Perez ride shot gun. You’re not going to realistically challenge for a championship with Button and Perez, but you might do with Hulkenberg.

“Take away Schumachers years in the bespoke class of the field car and his career stats aren’t that impressive either.”


Schumacher only ever had a dominant car in 2001, 2002 and 2004. He battled away for 10 years before getting a car better than the competition and look what he did with it. Broke every record in the book.

Schumacher had a phenomenal record driving in cars inferior to the opposition throughout the 90’s. Even in 2000 against the superior McLaren he won 9 races in a 17 race season. He even got taken out on the first corner of two consecutive races mid-season. 1998 he’s up against McLarens that open the season by lapping the entire field and he wins 6 of 16.


I totally agree with GS because you see its not about magically becoming the no 1 driver, its just nature: Young racers replace old racers and I don’t mean to hurt anybody’s feelings, because I know you britts love Button, but the man just doesn’t cut it for McLaren i mean he is really not that fast nor is he so good setting up the car or one lap times I know you can play with numbers and make a driver look worse/better, but lets just be honest here, watching Button race is just as boring and dull than watching Vettel win because of a superior car, I mean just take this last GP as an example, the pass from Alonso to Button, really was fo a laugh…I would totally go for Hulk/Per.


So You can foresee Perez suddenly overtaking Button next year? That’s sort of dismissing evidence isn’t it? Take Perez luck with the super tyre sympathetic sauber of 2012 and what’s his record? Umm yes and take away any drivers year in a dominant car and their record is a lot worse. Take away Schumachers years in the bespoke class of the field car and his career stats aren’t that impressive either. Remove any drivers stats from top machinery and only include those in mid field cars and we can play that game all day. Massa racked up his wins in a Ferrari that was almost neck and neck with the McLaren of that year.

Personally I’d much rather have seen Hulkenberg in the car than Perez (and no one has shown Perez actually brought the big Telmex money yet) but to decide that you’d fire Button based on Perez magically becoming the dominant driver next year seems the sort of decision that drops past foolish into wilfully blind.


C’mon guys lets give Perez a break. Yes he has been out scored by Button but he done a good job with what he has been given to drive and let’s not forget he is still very inexperienced.

James, have you heard any news or am I allowed to say gossip of any Mexican money coming into the team?


Ok, Im going to gossip a bit, when MW said that they already had the new sponsor, here in México the word was that Claro is going to replace Vodafone, so… yes Checo will stay at McLaren, and also, the same people say that Checo is being paid by McLaren, not by Escuderia Telmex, thats why there aint many mexican sponsors currently at McLaren, also, all telmex merchandise is about Esteban Gutierrez/Sauber, so… heres my guess… Slim will use Perez for McLaren/Claro(Latin America) and will keep using Gutierrez for México.


I do not agree with the title of this article. Perez has been driving decently, given that:

1) He is very young and still learning how to be consistent and not to make errors

2) He is in a new team, so it takes time to get accustomed to the people and their working habits

3) He is a Mexican in an all English team, so communication, cultural issues are sure to emerge.

4) He is a team that focused on Button as the most experienced to depend on

5) He is driving a real poor car that the driver can’t build some confidence on.

For me it would be a huge mistake to replace him now, as Perez could develop like Grosjean and be super quick in a Maclaren that could be highly improved next year.


Agree with you, but like to add. I was very upset with his Monaco drive, but MW praised him. If I am under pressure and doing foolish things, but then my manager praises me in public, why will I stop to try to impress him. My opinion is that SP’s biggest problem is that he do not have a team manager that can mentor him. McLaren and Ferrari are in the same position – below F1 standard team managers.


Good Analysis


Good comments.

Big team. Poor car. New driver – big step up.


learning the ropes or a modern day Rene Arnoux who always found a second at contracts time?



Off topic but after being very closely matched this year and rosberg often being more competitive than Lewis hamilton, is ham still considered one of the top three drivers or has his stock in the paddock been decreased?

More importantly are merc happy?


Hamilton has had his fair share of bad luck at Suzuka and Silverstone, but earlier in the season he struggled to get a hang of the car’s braking characteristics. It’s quite possible the Merc is a bit strange under braking and why Schumi took two years in the car to be competitive with Rosberg.

Rosberg has probably not gotten the credit he deserves having spent the start of his career stuck in an uncompetitive Williams (four podiums, two poles and one victory since 2005 isn’t helping them. Freak pole and win in 2012, though one of those “what were McLaren doing” incidents given Hamilton’s exclusion after taking pole by half a second.), and now he’s in a team with Hamilton and they’re performing reasonably similarly (10-6 to Hamilton in qualy with a ~0.2s average advantage to Hamilton, 9-7 advantage to Hamilton in race finishes, 5-3 to Hamilton in podiums though there’s the argument it should be 4-4 and 8-8 taking Malaysia into account, or 9-7 if Hamilton’s tyre hadn’t exploded at Silverstone) though Hamilton still has an edge over Rosberg generally. Luck and questionable team orders comes into a little, but the competition with Hamilton seems to be bringing out the best in Rosberg.

Next year is going to be fun just watching the Merc drivers, never mind anything else.

It’s nice to see Williams are getting Merc engines next year, maybe their disastrous run of form will improve some. All they’ve been notable for since 2005 is ruining the career progression of two great drivers called Nico and hiring the ultimate crash kid pay driver in Maldonado.


One good race in a season in a top-level team isn’t good enough (car notwithstanding). He’s been involved in far too many incidents.

Something must be afoot: it’s nearly November and McLaren still haven’t formally confirmed either of their drivers yet.

If I were Whitmarsh, I’d stick Hulkenberg in the car, even if it is only for one year before Alonso turns up.


Would Hülkenberg go for that? He’s good enough, but I’ve already read one report (sorry, I can’t remember where, maybe here? 😉 that he’s in danger of looking like he changes teams too often. I’d say that he’s had some bad luck on that front, but it’s a cruel world.

Anyhow, would it be a good career move for Hülkenberg to go for McLaren if he thought it was “only for one year”? And will he have much choice?


I hope he keeps his drive for next season, true he has not been outstanding all the time, but he has had to drive the worst Mclaren in a very long time, to be under such pressure, to hear that his seat maybe taken away, I really hope he can prove a lot of people wrong, and in a hopefully competitive car next year he could well end up a winner.


You may very well be right. I think most of the people here seemingly writing off Perez might want to consider how its gone with Grosjean… I’m pretty sure Perez is not a top-rank superstar like Vettel, but those are very rare. However, he may yet develop into a decent race winner.

One way or the other, McLaren will have to chase for a star once their car (Honda?) comes of age. For the time being, they should stay the course with Perez and then decide in a year’s time which one of the two would be the ideal teammate for Alonso, should they be able to sign him…


It takes time for a good wine to mature,Perez is fast and fearless ,I am sure his experience of setting up the car will increase and consistency in the races will come.


Well I think McLaren are also worried of their image. It wouldn’t look nice to hire a driver, give him a terrible car and dump him for bad results. But again, no team should care about being nice.


Perez has done well with a difficult car in a new team. Things have not gone smoothly but the man has shown that he has some fight in him. Don’t be surprised if he finishes 15-20 points behind the well established and experienced Button. McLaren has convinced itself that Jens is a great driver so any driver changes will be at the expense of Checo. Seems really unfair to me how critical McLaren have been with him, Constantly bringing up the pressure of driving for a top team. Seems they are looking for excuses to usher him out.


Wouldn’t make much sense to drop Perez after only 1 year, particularly when they have a far bigger problem than driver quality at the moment, since it’s been anything but an easy year for him.

He will have to rise above his current level of good but nothing special for next year though, especially if McLaren come up with a good car.

rob in victoria bc

I agree 100%. If Massa wasn’t looking for a seat right now I think he would have finished 7th in India rather than 4th. I thought these guys were supposed to be motivated to win, rather than just by money and lifestyle. Disappointing to find they are the same as the rest of us.


He was helped to 4th with Webber retiring, perhaps with Alonso and Button pitting and wrecking their hard tyre strategies.

Then again he held off Lewis, plus if Ferrari hadn’t been undercut, again, then he may have beaten Rosberg as well.

Massa does seem to be more ‘in the zone’ on Saturday though.


Do we have a Mexican GP 100% in 2014 or not?

McLaren being the pros they are toward their sponsors aren’t really giving us hints on who replaces Vodafone either, right? Or is it simply I who doesn’t know and they announced already? Telmex?


I think it’s on.

We may be looking at 20 next year with doubts over Korea and New Jersey (again)


Do you know what is happening with the post-race mid-season testing James? Is that still on the agenda?


Yes, 4 tests of 2 days each


There goes my 2014 plan!

From Autoweek article “Formula 1 in New Jersey? Don’t think so.”


Red flag No. 1: Savvy F1 observers might reasonably interpret this provisional June 1 date as a between-the-lines message from often-mischievous Ecclestone, who, only a month prior to the calendar’s release, emphatically told Autoweek F1 correspondent Adam Cooper at Spa-Francorchamps that New Jersey’s date “never was going to be June.” For one thing, the date means F1 is scheduled to visit Monaco, New Jersey and Canada on back-to-back-to-back weekends, a near logistical impossibility, according to sporting directors at Ferrari and Sauber. But if Ecclestone knows Port Imperial isn’t happening, wherever he lists it, then this provisional date is irrelevant. June is as good as Neveruary.

Could he have lied to our man Cooper? Many regard Ecclestone in unflattering terms, but one thing longtime F1 journalists do not accuse him of is lying blatantly when asked direct questions. And remember, New Jersey was on the provisional list last year, too…

An even brighter red flag: Where is Hindery? He has declined interview requests repeatedly — even on Sept. 27, the day his race appeared on the calendar. More between the lines: If you spend years working to bring the world’s most popular, glamorous and wealthiest motorsport to Metropolis, get it on the calendar and are confident it’s for real, wouldn’t your PR staff actively line up as many interviews as possible? Light up social media with abandon? Wouldn’t you stand in front of the Manhattan skyline holding another joyous if not self-congratulatory press conference similar to the original one in October 2011 — and for which the late Speed TV interrupted its regularly scheduled programming to broadcast live?


No way James, no NJ again?!

Didn’t they just take all the Velencia barriers or grand stands or something?


I get the feeling New Jersey might get over the line as Bernie is really pushing for it. Think Korea will be off the calendar.


I hope it does. I live 3 hrs away and I can save on hotel costs!


For me, it’s just down to whether McLaren want the next Rubens Barrichello or whether they want someone at the level of Alonso/Vettel/Hamilton in Checo’s seat.

I haven’t looked at the statistics, but he’s performed at more or less the same level against Button as Rubens did when they were teammates. Now, if McLaren think any of their junior drivers can have a first season like Hamilton, or if Alonso (or Vettel in 2015?) is available, then sorry Checo…

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