Second chances are few and far between in F1. It is one of the most competitive environments in world sport, and with 1000’s of hungry young chargers vying for their shot at the big time, opportunities are few and far between, particularly when it comes to the sport’s premium seats. For Sergio Perez, his chance to shine came in 2013, when McLaren paired him with 2009 champion Jenson Button, following a breakthrough 2012 campaign where the 21 year-old Mexican claimed three podiums for Sauber. Ultimately, Perez fluffed his lines during his spell at Woking but so did his team.
Here’s why Sergio Perez deserves another shot with one of F1’s most illustrious squads.
The reassembly of one of the sports most successful partnerships was meant to be the springboard that a struggling McLaren outfit needed to return to pre-eminence. While the first races on Honda’s return to the sport were always set to be filled with trials and tribulations, few could have predicted the extent of their troubles at the mid-way point of their first season in the V6 Hybrid era.
Just 17 points on the board, from ten races plagued by unreliability, the first half of the season has certainly been a character building experience.
Honda are certainly not unfamiliar with the pressure-cooker that is the Formula 1 paddock. Their struggles to adapt to life in the post-2014 formula has seen both them, and their partners at McLaren, face a barrage of difficult questions. This barrage has become more potent of late, as the team continue to languish towards the tail-end of the grid. While Honda have the resources and expertise required to win races and championships, such a turn-around will not simply be the work of a moment and McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier, has suggested that Honda should seek outside assistance. However, with such a proposition being a departure from typical practices at Honda, Boullier’s suggestions could be shelved.
Earlier this week, Kevin Magnussen sparked speculation regarding both his and the similarly McLaren-backed Stoffel Vandoorne’s future prospects, with the Dane admitting; “Stoffel is doing a good job – he deserves to be in F1. There’s something wrong if he doesn’t.” With Vandoorne carving a pre-eminent figure in GP2, leading the championship by a commanding 44 points, McLaren could find themselves making tough decisions this winter as they have too many drivers for too few spaces in the team.
“Will Vandoorne have an F1 drive for 2016,” was the question that I posed to my Twitter followers on Friday. As with all good debate questions, the complexity of the argument was evident in the responses.
McLaren and Honda need no introduction. Perfect partners since the first lap in 1988, the association produced one of the greatest machines the sport has ever seen in the MP4/4. Brought to life by Steve Nichols and Gordon Murray, the car took all but one race victory in the hands of Alain Prost and eventual champion Ayrton Senna. The first McLaren Honda certainly set the bar high. However, with one of the most technically advanced powerunits ever constructed providing the MP4-30’s roar, the partnership has reconvened and so far missed the sparkle in performance to match that of the paintwork.
FP1 in Bahrain is much like FP1 in Singapore – a session prior to nightfall at a night-race is always unrepresentative and as such, Kimi Raikkonen table topping attempt was relatively unrepresentative. However, with FP2 kicking off at the same time as Sunday’s race, the second session of the day was far more meaningful and with Ferrari posting impressive long-run times once again, it seems that Bahrain could be a similar story to Malaysia. At the very least, Mercedes will be looking in their mirrors this weekend.
As track temperatures lingered around 30 degrees, most people expected to see Mercedes reassert their dominance over their rivals this weekend and FP1 had the hallmarks of an impending whitewash. However, Ferrari seem unaffected by the low surface temperatures, as the SF15-T has once again caused the Brackley squad concerns heading into the rest of the weekend. In terms of short run performance, Mercedes seem comfortable, but both Raikkonen and Vettel have stated their claim to a tilt for victory on Sunday.