Sergio Perez, Racing Point, Baku City Circuit, 2019

2019 F1 driver rankings #6: Sergio Perez

2019 F1 season review

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Wielding a lightly warmed-over version of last year’s Racing Point, Sergio Perez demonstrated what the car was capable of far better than his team mate.

Perez was seldom headed by Lance Stroll all season long. On the few occasions he was, some external factor was usually responsible.

Qualifying for the first race of the season set the form: Stroll fell at the first round, while Perez dragged his car into the top 10. Of course that meant starting on old tyres, and Perez slipped back in the race, while Stroll bagged points.

Perez swiftly set about demonstrating this was an outlier of a result. In Azerbaijan, a track where he and the team have consistently impressed, he was the first driver home not blessed with a Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull. That proved the first of four midfield wins he managed during 2019.

The other three came after the summer break, as Racing Point made strides with their RP19. A somewhat fortuitous sixth place when the season resumed at Spa, aided by Lando Norris and Antonio Giovinazzi’s late problems, began a run of solid results for Perez.

He turned in a tremendous drive on home ground in Mexico, dicing with Ricciardo as he claimed ‘best of the rest’ honours again. But he also impressed in at Monza and recovered well in Singapore, until his car let him down.

At Suzuka Perez was lucky his last-lap clash with Pierre Gasly didn’t cost him a points finish, thanks to the chequered flag error. For a while, Perez’s points-scoring single-handedly made Racing Point a viable prospect for fifth in the championship.

Sergio Perez

Beat team mate in qualifying18/20
Beat team mate in race14/17
Races finished19/21
Laps spent ahead of team mate783/1128
Qualifying margin-0.13
Points52

Those hopes were dashed at Circuit of the Americas, where he had to start at the back of the grid after failing to stop at the weighbridge during practice. Nonetheless he survived a last-lap tangle with Daniil Kvyat to add another point.

The team slumped at Interlagos, Perez complaining of poor straight-line speed, but at Yas Marina he took advantage of being the highest driver on the grid with new tyres to take his final ‘best of the rest’ finish, passing Norris superbly on the final lap.

Perez left few points on the table during 2019. The main exception, Germany, was a major missed opportunity. He spun out early on in the wet conditions, leaving Stroll to bag a fortunate fourth place following a late gamble on slick tyres.

But while Perez’s only significant driving error of the year proved costly, his consistent points-scoring more than made up for it in the final reckoning.

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Over to you

What’s your verdict on Sergio Perez’s 2019 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than? Have your say in the comments.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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25 comments on “2019 F1 driver rankings #6: Sergio Perez”

  1. Perez probably the most underrated driver in midfield. Sixth is fair since Sainz definitely do better job this season. So that only left Hamilton, Max, Leclrec, and Bottas ahead of them. Only Bottas that I think have a bit of questionable season although this also probably the best season yet for him.

    1. I think I concur with all of the rankings thus far. Or at least can’t make a strong argument against any.

      The two Williams drivers are a tough call, but if pushed I’d go with Keith’s reasoning. I feel Ricciardo was a tad high if anything, but can’t really back it up with anything.

      As for Bottas, @sonicslv, I struggle too. Just how good IS Hamilton? To me: very good. And Bottas deserves credit for 2019 on the whole. Even taking into account his errors and slow weekends, did he have enough more than the Ferrari boys to warrant being behind them? Or were they just highlighted by the fact that even on his bad day, Lewis was still frankly brilliant.

    2. sky tv is not allowed to talk about Perez and therefore fans ignore him

  2. I watch Perez since early years. When he moved to McLaren I thought his dreams would come true.

    I don’t recall the reason for his demotion, maybe some Dennis being Dennis or such. Fill in the gap if you know.

    But after that what’s left for him was showing a strong racecraft and sense of opportunity in the midfield. The same place a lot of good drivers end up when all the top seats are taken.

    1. Quite simply, he didn’t perform well enough. He only managed 49 to Button’s 73, in what was McLaren’s worst year for quite a while. By the end of the European season, he only had 18 points to his teammate’s 48 (though, as ever, he scored well in the latter section of the season).

    2. Only Facts!, as noted, he did struggle a bit whilst at McLaren – part of it was down to a lack of experience, as he only had 37 starts to his name when he went there, and the MP4/28 was a bit tricky to work with that year.

      Button did have the advantage of greater experience and in being the incumbent driver. That might have been even more useful in 2013 as the early season version of the MP4/28 carried over a number of parts from the MP4/27, so Button’s knowledge of the MP4/27 would have given him an extra edge earlier on in the season.

      Perez has also stated that, although he had some strong races in 2012, he spent most of that year still having to deal with after effects from being so heavily concussed during the qualifying session for the 2011 Monaco GP. That does come into the experience issue, as he might have been underprepared for McLaren and only just about getting back to full fitness by the time he went there.

      Some external observers have suggested that Perez might have also been partially caught up in the crossfire caused by the internal fighting between the pro-Ron Dennis faction and pro-Whitmarsh factions in McLaren, with the former reportedly causing quite a few ructions as Ron sought to reclaim control of the team.

      Some have suggested there may therefore have been an element of internal politics there, with Ron preferring to get rid of Perez – who was appointed by Whitmarsh – as a way of symbolically breaking with Whitmarsh’s time in charge. There were a few suggestions that, whilst not actively obstructing Perez, the team were perhaps not giving him quite as much support as they could have done as they were more absorbed by their own infighting.

      You can understand why Perez jumped at that chance, as you never know when you might have a chance with a top team. Unfortunately, by his own admission it probably was slightly too early in his career for him to really make the most of that chance and he went to the team just as McLaren’s accumulated problems were starting to drag the team down, so in the end it didn’t really work out for him.

      1. Hey Anon, now that you mentioned, I did recall some political war going on in the background.

        It all makes sense. Not being mature enough to deal with that internal fight, let alone driving for a top team with a strong teammate.

        I guess that’s what separate boys from men…

    3. Perez didn’t score as well as Button but above all Perez sponsors failed to provide the backing Dennis hoped for. Look at Max, Holland has taken f1 over.
      6th for Perez second worst season in f1. This years ranking is the worst of all time. Perez was sloppy this season, he never had enough pressure from Stroll.

  3. I think Perez was outstanding after the summer break. Scoring points in every race but Singapore where he had to retire.

    Before then though, I thought he was overall pretty poor, with only a few solid results. The fact that Stroll outscored him over the first 12 races before the summer break is pretty negative for Perez, especially given Stroll was rated 19th. I think 6th is possibly a little too high. It wasn’t just bad luck that resulted in Stroll getting more points than him in the first 12 races. Perez binned it in the race where he had the best opportunity of the season to score highly. Stroll managed this and Perez didn’t. As well as scoring more points at this stage of the season, he also finished in the points more often than Perez. 4 times vs 3.

    I actually think both drivers underperform somewhat in qualifying (although clearly Stroll does far more) and make some of this up in the race. The average gap in qualifying over the season was 0.13, which isn’t much at all given how often Perez out qualified Stroll. I think this indicates qualifying really is not either drivers strong point.

    Perez seemed to be incredibly good in the last 9 races, pretty much dominating Stroll (which I really don’t think was the case before hand results wise). Stroll however did look convincingly better in Brazil and would have had a points finish above Perez if not for his suspension problems.

    I think Perez should be rated a little lower really as I think he looked to be nowhere given his reputation at one stage of the season. Either that or Stroll should be given a little more credit for the amount of points and points finishes he got before the summer break vs Perez.

  4. I still struggle to split Perez, Bottas, and Sainz.
    Bottas beat Hamilton on many Saturdays, yet on Sunday he sometimes slotted in behind two other makes.
    Sainz convincingly won the F1.5 championship, but for all we know the car was already at F1.25 level.

    1. I keep changing my mind between Bottas, leclerc and Sainz as to who to put behind the top two. Perez IMO just isn’t quite at this level as the start of his season really wasn’t that good. And with Stroll as his team mate, I don’t think his good part of the season is even quite as good as it looks.

      1. so Ben, Stroll is not good so Perez don’t deserve it, uh …

        1. Well, it doesn’t give a particularly representative idea of how good the car is with Stroll as his team mate does it? I think they are both pretty weak in qualifying (obviously more so on Stroll), but Perez in particular often recovers in the race well. But I often think it is round about where the car should be and he is maybe underperforming a little in qualifying.

  5. Okay, last year Sainz was #13 and Hulkenberg was #12. The difference in points was 16 points in favor of Hulkenberg.

    This year Hulkenberg is #15 and Ricciardo #7 :-) The difference in points was 17 – obviously 1 more point pushes a driver 5 spots in the rankings.

    Perez is driving on a team without any competition and ends up #6 which is untenable given the fact that he didn’t beat anyone this season. Would he have outscored Ricciardo in the same car?

    1. @freelittlebirds, I would assume the reasoning is that Perez has performed strongly in relation to his peers in the midfield pack given the expectations for the RP19 were low – indeed, you yourself have referred to Perez as “king of the midfield pack” because of his performance relative to those around him.

      Asides from being one of the higher points scoring drivers in the midfield pack, he also had the longest streak of consecutive points finishes of any driver in the midfield pack – a decent achievement given how competitive the midfield pack has been this season.

      With regards to your question of whether Perez would have outscored Ricciardo in the same car, I think Perez would have had a chance of doing so. Perez has performed favourably against Hulkenberg in the past, who is a common point of reference between the two, and Ricciardo did waste multiple opportunities to score points this season – if Perez showed the sort of points scoring consistency he showed in the latter part of this season, I could see that consistency paying off against Ricciardo.

      1. All the points you made are valid. I would have placed Ricciardo ahead of Perez personally simply because it’s difficult to really evaluate Perez’s performance based on Stroll’s performance. While he’s the king of the midfield, Perez showed some weaknesses against Ocon especially in the way they raced each other so he’s not perfect either. And the fight between Hulk and Perez tilted towards Perez in terms of points and podiums and Hulk in terms of speed without really a clear winner.

        Hulkenberg is way off, however, in #15 if Perez and Ricciardo are #6 and #7 and Sainz is ahead of both. Last year, Sainz was 1 place away from Hulk and Hulk is 8 places away from Ricciardo under similar deficits.

        1. @freelittlebirds, even though Hulkenberg might have edged the qualifying battle with Perez, it’s worth noting that the advantage he had over a single lap had been falling over time – whilst, in 2014, that advantage was worth several tenths over a single lap when averaged over the course of the season, it had fallen to below a tenth by 2016.

          Thinking about it, in some ways the reason that some of the rankings are relatively contentious this season is because a lot of drivers had pretty flawed seasons, so you can make an argument against a lot of the drivers for them to be ranked low.

          Most would probably say that Kubica’s season was a dream that turned into a nightmare, but it was perhaps tainted by too many perhaps over optimistically thinking that Kubica could return and drive as if nothing had changed. Stroll was ranked low but, as Ben Rowe has pointed out, there is an argument that perhaps his form isn’t quite as bad as it might appear on first glance.

          Grosjean and Magnussen were error prone and erratic, although it has to be said their car was up and down like a yo-yo throughout the season – and, if I’m honest, I think Keith has perhaps been a bit overgenerous with Magnussen’s ratings, given he might have beaten Grosjean on points, but generally finished behind Grosjean in the races.

          Gasly was utterly awful when driving for Red Bull, but his season turned around when he went back to Toro Rosso. Kvyat wasn’t brilliant, but I do feel that sometimes he was getting blamed for on track incidents that other drivers might have been given the benefit of the doubt for (China is one example, where I think that Norris was probably more responsible than Kvyat), and that overly harsh treatment is perhaps dragging down his score this season.

          Russell did what he could, but the fact that he could rarely show anything in a car that was badly off the pace means he’s still something of an unknown. Albon is being hyped up, but I’m a bit lukewarm to a performance that I think was still a bit lacking and, had it been earlier in the season, he might have also had a few races where he ended up behind the midfield pack.

          Norris impressed in qualifying, but showed that he needed to sharpen his skills in racecraft as he tended to lose out over a longer stint. Whilst Kimi looked decent in the first half, I wonder whether that might perhaps have been more because Giovinazzi was so off the pace, no doubt reflecting his lack of racing over the past two years, and that comparison perhaps flattered Kimi.

          Hulkenberg probably wasn’t as bad as Keith suggests, but at the same time he didn’t really have any particular standout moments either – I wonder if, perhaps, Keith ranked the other drivers and then put Hulkenberg where he was almost by default. I do feel this was one of Hulkenberg’s weaker seasons, but not quite that weak.

          On the other side of the coin, Ricciardo might have come in and had a more noticeable impact at Renault, ending up leading the pack home on several occasions – something Hulkenberg failed to do this season – he also had some rather dramatic errors, including some race ending ones that seemed borne of frustration (such as the incident with Kvyat in Baku).

          Vettel had a messy season, but one where, just every now and then, there were those flashes of his older form when he did seem to find a way to gel with the car and extract more pace. The back end of Perez’s campaign this season was quite strong, but Ben Rowe also does point out that the first bit was a bit weaker, even if the RP19 was one of the weaker cars at the start of the season too.

          Even amongst those not yet listed, whilst Sainz was strong, there have been some wondering if McLaren might have been able to pull itself just that bit ahead of the midfield pack and given Sainz that slight extra edge. Leclerc will probably be fairly high up, but whilst his performances were certainly dramatic and he showed promise, there were odd moments where it felt he was perhaps getting a little hot headed and that he was pushing things a little too far.

          Some might be a bit hard on Bottas too – he has shown stronger single lap pace this season, but he has shown that he’s still prone to occasionally slumping into somewhat anonymous performances in some races.

          There have been a few posters suggesting that, rather than ranking one by one, it might almost be better to give a numerical score, and one that probably would have to have some error of margin on it (closer to the method that F1 Metrics, which prefers to try and model the grid mathematically, has sought to implement).

          1. Yet again, a very well articulated comment that seems to fully capture my feeling about the driver’s seasons, and the ranking here so far Anon; though I agree Ben Rowe had a good comment, yours is for me the comment of the day.

    2. @freelittlebirds this years ranking is way off. To add to what you’re saying last year Hulk trounced Sainz, yet Sainz is probably 3rd on this years list. Kubica scored a point he should be well ahead of Georgie boy…

    3. he did beat him in Mexico in a lower car

  6. Perez has developed into a championship contender driver IMO. Most underrated driver in the field.

    Having him below Sainz just feels weird. Sainz had trouble out-qualifying a rookie.

    It’s a crying shame Perez didn’t try for the McLaren drive for 2019. Imagine what he would do there for 2020 if the car’s upward trajectory holds (which I firmly believe). He would be right up there in the hunt for the occasional podiums.

    Now he’s forever stuck in Racing Point with no hope of F1 glory and before he knows it, he’s past his sell-by date.

    1. No. Perez is not so fast on saturdays. He is consistent on sundays, but already we know he is on Hulkenberg level or just slightly better. Checo had problems with Ocon. He improved from that year in McLaren, but, as six are the winning cars, I think he is not one of the top six. Ham, Ver, Lec, Vet, Ric, Rai and Bot are better than him. Ocon, Norris and maybe Russell have more potential.
      He is better than the Haas pairs and Kvyat and on same Sainz level.
      Still difficult to rate Albon, Gasly and Giovinazzi.

      1. Checo beat Ocon and Hulkenberg and btw Button qualifying

    2. I Agree, he’s gotten better and better with time.

      I think he should be on the upper levels of any top team wish list if for example Vettel retires…

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