April 8th, 2013 (F1plus/B. Creed).- In November last year I wrote an article questioning McLaren’s decision to pick Sergio Perez as the replacement for the departing Lewis Hamilton. After two races for the team in 2013 he has scored just once and whilst the car is not as strong as it was in 2012 some have questioned whether Perez’s inexperience is hindering McLaren.
In an interview with the BBC former McLaren driver John Watson said McLaren looked as if they had ‘one and a half drivers’, alluding to Perez’s lack of experience. Watson’s assessment of McLaren could be considered fair. Whilst Perez could certainly perform if given a race winning car, the 2013 McLaren challenger does not have that potential.
The experience of the other front running teams will not help McLaren as they seek to develop and improve their car. Nor is Perez skilled enough to be able to develop the McLaren into a race winner and it is still yet to be seen if he can make the car perform better than it should.
The team have scored just two points from two races with tenth place finishes at both the Australian and Malaysian Grand Prix. Perez’s teammate Jenson Button is also struggling with the car, but he has a lot more experience behind him- both in racing and with the team.
Admittedly some of the issues are with the MP4-28- the car is simply not as good as their front running rivals. But the reality is a good driver will get performance out of the car and score points even when the car doesn’t deserve or normally have the ability to finish in the top ten.
It was suggested at the time of his appointment at McLaren back in September last year he was not the right man for the job. And this was before McLaren’s woes began concerning the pace of the car.
Whilst no one can say for sure someone like Nico Hulkenberg or Paul di Resta would have been any better if they had got the chance, some would have felt their talent may have compensated for their lack of experience.
Suggestions Perez has been signed because of his Telmex sponsorship, especially as Vodafone are to terminate their contract with McLaren at the end of 2013, add fuel to the fire that Perez was chosen for his money rather than his ability to perform and help develop the team.
Maybe Perez just needs more time to adjust to life at McLaren. Having a less than perfect car will not have helped him find his feet but if he wants to be a champion in F1 he needs to do more than drive the car.
Learning to develop and draw performance out of a car which is far from perfect would at least show the world he deserves his chance at McLaren. But until then McLaren must hope the updates and upgrades for the car over the coming races are enough to boost their performance before it is too late for 2013.