Perez sees need to raise his game in qualifying

2013 F1 season

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Sergio Perez, McLaren, 2013Sergio Perez says he will need to change his approach after switching to McLaren for 2013.

Perez believes he will have to raise his game in qualifying in order to improve his prospect of winning races.

“I think the approach this year is different,” said Perez in a media interview during his first official day with the team.

“In Sauber it helped me because the approach was to always maximise the race potential, not so much the qualifying.”

“Here the target is to be in pole position and win the race. Normally the fastest strategy is the one that you do the most stops and you are pushing all the time so in that respect I think obviously I will try to help with my style, with my understanding of the tyre, the end approach has to be different.

“We have to attack a lot more the qualifying and extract the maximum from the race.”

Perez said he isn’t taking it for granted that having a quick car will automatically make him a contender for pole position: “Obviously it’s something to improve.”

“It’s not like when you go into a top car you will be in pole position. There’s work to do and I’m not worried about the qualifying pace. I can be up there, if I put everything in place I can maximise the potential of the car so that’s the most important as a driver.”

“I expect to be competitive in Melbourne”

With 12 days’ testing between now and the start of the season Perez said preparation is crucial to ensure he is competitive from the first race for McLaren in the Australian Grand Prix

“I think it will be a bit of a time,” said Perez when asked if he expects to be at his best from the first race.

“With six days and obviously the races you’ve got to learn and get familiarisation with the team. But I expect myself already to be competitive in Melbourne.”

“The most important for me is to get into the rhythm of everything automatically in terms of steering wheel to get to know all the codes all the functions of the car to understand the car in terms of set-ups for me to be able to have a good communication with my engineers,” he added.

“It’s a very important part as well for me to build my relationship with my engineers, with the team and to get together so when I come into the first test I have as much familiarisation as possible with the whole team.

“And when we get to Melbourne that I’m very well prepared and everything comes automatically, I don’t have to think about so many things because it’s normally a lot of things. The more prepared I can get the better it will be.”

Sauber allowed Perez to spend some time in McLaren’s simulator in December before he officially joined the team. He had previously used Ferrari’s simulator by being part of their Driver Development Programme.

He acknowledged that getting to grips with McLaren’s simulator will be an important part of his preparations. “It’s something very interesting I think especially when McLaren bases so much on the simulator,” he said.

Perez will now begin more intensive work in the build-up to the new season.

“Basically we start tomorrow with some preparation, some simulator, some meetings with the team to start to talk about the car already, get to know the new steering wheel,” he said. “And basically start the preparation for the first test.”

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Keith Collantine
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  • 39 comments on “Perez sees need to raise his game in qualifying”

    1. “Normally the fastest strategy is the one that you do the most stops and you are pushing all the time”

      I don’t think this has necessarily been the case with the top running teams. I think he’s still thinking with a Sauber mindset of needing to do the minimum number of stops (i.e. 1). All the top teams have had to drive to specific lap times during races , so are not always pushing in the races (one of the criticisms of the Pirelli tires this year). The top teams will also start a race with a 3 stop strategy in mind, but convert to 2 (or from to 2 to 1) as the race unfolds.

    2. Well Checco, since you said you will take a leave from JB, remember he is not the best qualifier on the grid :p

      The usual McLaren PR machine has started again! Raising hopes and disappointing at the last moment …. getting fed-up. I find it difficult to change team though …. :(

      1. I’m interested to see how Button reacts in the event Perez convincingly outperforms him over the course of the first 6 races or so.

    3. Oooops sorry, meant “taking a leaf”

    4. Perez sees need to raise his game in qualifying – as should his new team-mate

      1. I think Button did so in 2012! You can’t just expect a driver to out qualify Hamilton on a regular basis.

    5. “get to know the new steering wheel” a challenge indeed, so many things we do when driving are habit induced and require no conscious thought, in fact we havedone them before the thought arrives in our conscious mind. It must be very difficult to re-program a brain to a new set of multiple functions, I imagine this will be one of the main benefits of the simulator for a driver in a new team.

      1. When Rosberg joined Mercedes I saw an interview with him on French TV saying learning a new steering wheel was like a woman learning to use a new oven. (Cringe!)

        1. Drop Valencia!
          9th January 2013, 22:46


        2. (Cringe!)

          Are you trying to start up some kind of PC/non-PC debate amongst these pages? Normally we rise above that sort of thing here. For the record, many women use ovens, as do some men. Some women get new ovens…. actually now I think about it, not many men would bother getting a new oven, or even cleaning their old one…

          1. Seems like you’re the one wanting to start a “debate”. If you’re so keen on “rising above” these things, then no need to reply to what I found an amusing (and yes, since you ask, sexist) remark from Rosberg.

            1. @gwan “rising above” something your souffle does in a new oven once you have mastered it !

            2. @hohum ha, unfortunately I haven’t reached souffle-level oven mastery. Back to the kitchen with me…

      2. jimscreechy (@)
        10th January 2013, 15:07

        It must be a bit tricky at first. When I switch from playing say ‘call of duty’ to ‘battefield 3’ on my console, I always end up blowing myself up with granades or jumping out of the pullpits and getting shot becasue the controls are in the wrong place. I can’t imagine it’s much different (though of course, slightly more complicated). I remeber when Hamilton first joined Mclaren, he took a steering wheel home and just learned/ practiced constantly till he was happy he could do it without thinking.

    6. McLaren have got to have one of the weakest line-ups in their history in terms of qualifying. Considering they have been associated with some of the greatest qualifiers in history (including arguably the best Ayrton Senna) this comes as a surprise to me and begs the question why they didn’t sign Hulkenberg, known to be a strong qualifier. I have a feeling the reason Perez impressed last season may have been due to his skills in tyre conservation which won’t show as clearly in a top car, where usually three sets of tyres are used before the beginning of the race.

      I trust their judgement though and stand to be proven wrong as obviously they have the data and are better qualified to make the decisions on driver line-ups.

      1. I have to disagree with you there. We cant really say anything about Perez, as he was fairly on pair with Kobayashi, who is bit of an unknown too, as he only had two teammates before, PDR and HEI. So I would give Perez a chance to show something. On the other hand you could say that Button is a weak qualifier, but Im not sure of that either.
        Let me explain:
        In my opinion Button is an average/good qualifier, but Hamilton is or almost the best qualifier on the grid. If we take out Hamilton and Vettel (because of 2011) of the equation, Button would have had 5 poles this year and 7 in 2011. So I think he is not weak, but he had a teammate who is extremely strong in qualy.

        1. Please… did you see how further back on the grid Jenson is capable of putting a race winning car. Take 2012 for example – Barcelona, Monaco, Canada, Britain.

          I feel calling Jenson an avg. qualifier is paying him a compliment

          1. @todfod – Harsh, but I cannot find a way of disagreeing.

        2. @bag0 – Button’s average 2012 starting position was 6.45, a whole 2.25 higher than Hamilton and 1.3 higher than Vettel, both of whom were at one point in the season disqualified from qualifying and consequently listed as having qualified 24th. Which, bearing in mind he was driving the fastest car last season is not exactly a statistic to brag about. I understand that his qualifying pace may indeed appear on face value to be slower than in reality due to Hamilton being a “qualifying specialist” but as @todfod has stated he has managed in the past to qualify in a much lower grid position than his car was capable of.

          As for Pérez, yes he did beat his teammate in qualifying last year but by a less than emphatic margin of 11-9 and a mere 0.02s on average ahead. Of course though, Kobayashi is a bit of an unknown but we can expect, given he has lost his F1 seat, he is no Vettel or Hamilton! As I said though I stand to be proven wrong and will refrain from drawing conclusions.

        3. @todfod

          Take 2012 for example – Barcelona, Monaco, Canada, Britain.

          You take out his worst races of his arguably worst season, it just shows that he had a big slump, not that he alway qualifies that bad. And I did not say he could be on pole at every race in the fastest car, but that the image of his qualy pace is distorted by his qualy specialist teammate.

          I know, his pace was off, I just counted how many times he could have snatched pole without Vettel and Hamilton in his way. And I agree, on average he cant bring out 100% of the car in qualy, but not many driver can do it constantly, thus in my opinion he is not exceptional qualyfier like those two, but average/good, as he is part of the rest with an occasional blinder. Like 2004 Imola, 2006 Melbourne ect.

      2. @vettel1
        Hulkenberg might be more consistent than Perez, but the fact that Checo is 3 years younger, yet has accomplished more than Hulk within that period of time cannot be ignored.

        Regarding their weak line-up, I’d say that they are in a stronger position, statistically, than they were in 2002. Button is better than Coulthard, and Perez has achieved more than Kimi did before joining Mclaren.

        1. @kingshark – I’m not saying they have a weak line-up, I’m saying they have a weak qualifying line-up; in 2002 as you have said they had Kimi Raikkonen, known to be a strong qualifier. Your comment about Hulk achieving less in a greater time period, although true, doesn’t necessarily mean that Perez is better: of course Hülkenberg has only had two full years of competition, one of which in a car that finished 6th in the constructor’s championship and one 7th (but realistically was the 8th fastest car) whereas Perez has driven in a car that has finished 7th and 6th in consecutive years for the same team. Also worth mentioning is the fact that Perez was driving a faster car last season in the midst of all the unpredictability that lead to 7 different race winners in as many races, which was surely an influential factor in him achieving what he has.

          I’m not trying to devalue Perez’s achievements as I believe he is a great young driver but I feel that there are better options McLaren could have taken over the comparatively weak qualifying Perez (who qualified 10th, 15th and 13th respectively in his three podium drives in 2012).

          As I said though I stand to be proven wrong!

        2. jimscreechy (@)
          9th January 2013, 18:30

          Hmmm I don’t see why his age is relevant. A drivers career opportunities in F1 have always been dependant on good fortune, timing and a mixed bag of factors he has no control over. 3 years is nothing in F1 when it comes to were you may be due to opportunities and circumstances. Additioally ‘Checo’ hasn’t really achieved anything significant by F1 standards. His move to Mclaren is certainly due to good fortune, especially when you consider Hulkenburg and Diresta were candidates for the drive. Had been made a little later in the season he may not have been so fortunate. Not that I don’t think he’s a good driver, just that you justification of why is unsound. Getting a drive with a good team is one thing, achieving something when your there is quite another.

      3. hulk dont come with carlos slim’s backing

        1. Where do you see Telmex sponsors? Martin hired Sergio because he sees potential.

          1. no were YET

          2. I think is just a matter of time to se Telmex instead of vodafone, wich doesn´t necessary mean Perez lack of potential. I think he´s a great driver+very good sponsorship

      4. the question why they didn’t sign Hulkenberg

        They have to pay for the engines this year plus the fact that when they signed Perez the second place in the constructors was not safe at all

        I have a feeling the reason Perez impressed last season may have been due to his skills in tyre conservation

        According to Luca Baldisseri the responsible of the FDA after the test in Fiorano with Jules Bianchi in the F60 Sergio’s driving style is well suited to the Pirelli tyres which have more longitudinal grip and less lateral grip

        1. @tifoso1989 – I assume by your first statement you mean that Pérez is bringing a financial benefit over Hulkenberg or Di Resta? Anyway though thanks for that information regarding Pérez’s skill with the tyres!

          1. Exactly Perez brings huge sponsorship with Telmex behind him , i’m not saying Perez is a pay driver but Mclaren could have signed Hulk who is considered a better driver than Perez and he is now caught by the radar of 2 top teams Red Bull and Ferrari

    7. Bob (@bobthevulcan)
      9th January 2013, 17:22

      While Perez did show good race pace in the Sauber last year, most notably in Malaysia and Monza, it’s worth noting that all of his stand-out podium performances came from him starting barely within or outside of the top 10, and running an alternative strategy. As for his absolute one-lap pace, he did out-qualify Kobayashi by a fair margin over the course of the season (11-8, with Perez missing qualifying in Monaco).

      Exactly how well Perez will fare in the McLaren remains a great unknown. However, his willingness to identify/rectify his own shortcomings, and setting ambitious targets for himself, shows that he has the right frame of mind.

      1. I agree. The lazy opinion (which I initially adopted) was to assume that Perez was all about lucking into the right tyre due to being 11th or 12th on the grid quite often. This definitely overly-inflated his reputation, but at the same time looking at the data suggests he might actually be quite quick over one lap also, especially when analysing the Kob qualification comparison.

        This is going to be the most interesting debut in a top team, well since 2007 perhaps. Really looking forward to it. Checo is certainly saying all the right things, but then, this is McLaren. Can’t wait to see what happens…

        1. His podium in Malaysia was on merit alone, he was simply much quicker than everyone bar Alonso. His podiums in Canada and Italy, not so much, it was more down to strategy. However, even then, if Perez was put on another strategy compared to the rest of the field, it still takes a skilled driver to make the most of that opportunity, and every time he was given a good chance, he got that Sauber on the podium every time.

          1. His podium in Malaysia was on merit alone, he was simply much quicker than everyone bar Alonso

            Arguably he was even quicker than Alonso: in fact were it not for a strategic error on Sauber’s part he may very well have won.

            Sure he has driven well but I’m unsure whether he’ll be able to replicate that form in a McLaren, with all the pressure and indeed expectation of poles and race wins that come with it. I believe it will be particularly hard for him because of the man he is replacing: he will be expected by the general British public and media to fill rather big shoes which I’m not sure he’s capable of. Given time though I’m sure he’ll be able to develop into a great driver and perhaps win a championship or indeed several if McLaren can sustain the pace they currently have.

    8. At least Perez has identified he’s severely flawed currently. His prospects of challenging for the title and learning how to improve on things like qualifying and consistency (two areas his teammate are not exactly strong at either) all in the same year seem a bit optimistic. If he drove how he did in the last 6/7 races of 2012, there is a hell of a lot of work to do, if he surprises me (and many others) and actually has some speed, then that’s great.

      Still, as a McLaren fan, I’m not happy with him in the team.

      1. Where did he identify he is currently ‘severely flawed’?

    9. Just curious ..Mclaren start their prep pretty early in the season for the drivers …Dunno why Lewis is still on holiday as he also needs to get to know his new team , new steering etc etc especially as merc do have some different systems compared to what he has seen before ……. again just curious …maybe he has done his prep

    10. If there’s one thing to criticize him on it’s his qualifying, but if there’s one thing to praise him on it’s his racing (Japan 2012 excluded!). The start of the season tyre lottery may help him so he doesn’t have to be a great qualifier but I expect he will improve as his confidence grows in the car.

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