There, I said it… I rate Stroll. Well, I at least am happy to give him time of day.
Perez thinks so as well, in a recent interview with Racer.com, the Mexican driver who doesn’t always float everyone’s boat, was on record saying that “the kid definitely has talent”. And he should know, the Force India Point whatever the hell it’s called next Sunday week… well Perez is a decent ‘peddler’ as they say in the grass roots club racing circles.
The evidence? This year Perez was beaten by the ever rated Esteban Ocon, but only in the qualifying head-to-head, the Mexican still outscored the Frenchman by 13 points.
“In qualifying, he [Ocon] probably had the upper hand, although the gap between us in qualifying is less than a tenth” says Perez describing his season to Racer.com.
“He was more often in front in qualifying than myself. But I think the gap in the races was bigger than in qualifying.”
“In the races I did the biggest difference, always on pace, the pace was looking a bit stronger. It was very close again, but I think he was slightly better in qualifying, and I was quite a bit better in the race.”
Now, I do realise that Sergio ‘the Dick’ Perez (I’ve been reliably informed in the paddock that this is a real nickname), it’s rather aloof in his own estimations. The man comes from a very wealthy background, and has been gifted much in his journey into Formula 1 to boot. As such, the driver most definitely has a sense of arrogance and entitlement about him, and perhaps that’s why some fans dislike the attitude and forget some rather remarkable performances on track over the years. It must be said years ago during his Sauber days, that Perez too was “a kid with talent”.
In a similar sense to the 2018 Force India team mate battle, back in the McLaren days, Perez’ qualifying was better than his team mate and veteran, Jenson Button in 2013, but lost out on Sundays to the Brit. It seems the ‘the Dick’ has learned much since then.
I think too that Perez recognises some similar silver spoon criticisms fans and media have aimed at Lance Stroll recently, particularly after the Stroll buyout of Force India, thereby removing the well respected Ocon from a drive in F1.
And yet, both Stroll and Perez excel at times (front row start for Stroll at Monza anyone?), and in particular at certain circuits. Baku is case in point.
Perez with two podiums since the first race in 2016, and if we ignore the unfortunate coming together with Ocon in 2017, the Force India drivers had good pace and would’ve probably ended the race well that year. And of course we saw Stroll in his debut season nearly come 2nd, but still kept a podium spot in a very poor Williams. Then in 2018 Perez reached the podium again, whilst Stroll managed a remarkable 8th in an even worse Williams than the 2017 car.
Perhaps what both drivers lack is a degree of consistency, but with the recent and substantial investments pouring into the team, with an alleged budget increase taking the total to Renault Works team territory, surely such investment and stability with help both drivers smooth out the results into a season long consistent manner.
When asked about his future team mate, Perez says that he believes Lance Stroll will be able to show his full potential at Racing Point.
“I don’t know him much as a driver,” Perez said. “In Formula 1, it’s so difficult to prepare, to know a driver from another team. Ninety-five percent of your results is done by the car. He’s certainly had a poor season down to his car. I think Williams had a lot of trouble.
“But the kid definitely has talent. He’s been on the podium, when it’s wet, he’s always up there, and I think he’s coming to a great team with one of the best engineers in the world. I think he will be in great hands to deliver his full potential.”
Mark my words, Stroll in 2019 might just surprise everyone.