2022 F1 driver rankings #9: Sergio Perez

2022 F1 driver rankings

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Is there any more challenging position in Formula 1 currently then being Max Verstappen team mate? Whether Pierre Gasly, Alexander Albon or Perez himself, once the now-double world champion has built up momentum, it’s near-impossible for anyone opposite him in the garage to keep up.

Perez had spent all of 2021 insisting that he would be far closer to his team mate with the old new cars for 2022. And for the most part, he was right.

Immediately from the first weekend in Bahrain, Perez kept within touch of Verstappen, taking fourth on the grid behind the faster Ferraris. He had been on course for a podium to start the season after Verstappen’s retirement, only for his own car to seize on the final lap due to a fuel pump problem.

After licking their wounds, Red Bull struck back with a vengeance in Saudi Arabia. Perez secured pole position – his first, after 215 attempts – denying both Verstappen and the Ferrari pair the top spot on the grid. He held the lead at the start, led the early phase and only lost the lead of the race due to a Safety Car that came at such a bad moment it was as if Nicholas Latifi had timed his race ending crash just to spite him.

Perez helped Red Bull capitalise on Ferrari’s mistake
Red Bull had brought Perez on board to finally have a driver able to back up Verstappen when things don’t go his way. And when the world champion’s car let him down a second time in Melbourne, Perez was there to vacuum up the 18 points on behalf of his team. There was hardly a sweeter moment for Red Bull all season than Imola, where Perez pursued Charles Leclerc all race, then took advantage of his late spin to secure Red Bull’s first one-two of the season in Ferrari’s back garden.

Despite the season still being relatively young, Red Bull courted controversy in Barcelona after a rare Verstappen mistake saw him slide off the circuit, dropping him behind Perez. Just 19 points separated them in the standings, yet Red Bull told Perez to allow his team mate through not once, but twice. Verstappen’s pace did suggest he was the quicker driver, but the incident did little to convince cynics Red Bull effectively had ‘number one’ and ‘number two’ drivers.

However, in the days prior to the Monaco Grand Prix, Red Bull showed their appreciation for Perez by presenting him with a contract extension until 2024. As if eager to prove them right, Perez appeared to throw himself into championship contention by taking a vital victory in that weekend’s race, thanks to a brilliant strategic call by his team – despite some lingering controversy over the nature of the qualifying spin that had secured him third on the grid over Verstappen the day before.

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As Ferrari self-destructed in Baku, Perez took an easy second place. However, he did so a full 20 seconds after Verstappen had crossed the finish line first. It certainly wasn’t his fault his hydraulics failed eight laps into the Canadian Grand Prix, but it had been his responsibility that he’d started 13th following a Q2 crash on a wet track. He recovered from an early front wing change following contact with Leclerc at Silverstone before taking second place after a three-way battle with Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton that may well go down as the battle of the season.

Victory in Monaco was clearly the highlight
But after a flash of strong performances following the early phase of the season, Perez would only return to the podium once over the next six rounds. Sometimes through no fault of his own, like at the Red Bull Ring where his race was ruined by contact with George Russell. But at the following race in Paul Ricard, Russell denied him again – poaching a podium from under his nose as the race restarted following a late Virtual Safety Car.

By this point in the season any chance of Perez challenging for a title was disappearing with every passing weekend. There was no better example of this than in Spa, where he qualified third but gained second place on the grid from his penalised team mate. While Perez lost places at the start before eventually moving up into the lead, Verstappen – who started 12 places behind him – caught up and passed him for the lead before even making his first pit stop.

The final phase of the season fell into a familiar pattern for Perez. He appeared unable to threaten the fight for the very front of the field – mainly due to the fact it was being monopolised by his team mate. Mercedes’ resurgence only made the competition at the sharp end fiercer, but despite this Perez still showed that he could battle for wins when he had the chance.

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Following a rare fumble on his team mate’s side of the garage in qualifying, Perez started second alongside Leclerc in Singapore but beat the Ferrari off the line and led the entire race to secure his second win of the season, albeit after surviving a five-second post-race penalty. He also fought hard to take second place on the final lap in Suzuka – with the benefit of Leclerc being penalised for illegally holding position at the final chicane.

(L to R): Sergio Perez, Red Bull; Charles Leclerc, Ferrari; Silverstone, 2022
Perez could not prevent Leclerc beating him to second
With Verstappen securing the championship, Perez would fail to finish ahead of Verstappen in a competitive session for the rest of the season. He was out-paced by Hamilton at home in Mexico and forced to settle for third place. In Brazil, he suffered the embarrassment of allowing Verstappen to pass him, only for his team mate to refuse an instruction to allow him back through on the final lap.

Heading into the final weekend off the season, Perez had an opportunity to clinch second place in the championship. All he needed to do was to finish ahead of Leclerc. However, as he pushed with his two-stop strategy, Leclerc’s one-stop pace on the hard tyres was just too strong and he reached the chequered flag for the final time just over a second away from the Ferrari. While the result meant little, it still would have provided a psychological boost with which to head into the long off-season.

Perez’s second year at the front of the grid was undoubtedly superior to his first. He had no outstandingly poor weekends and had a far better time keeping pace with his team mate. But as the season progressed, he did little to invite confidence that he has a chance of ever sustaining a season-long challenge to Verstappen over his next two years alongside him.

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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39 comments on “2022 F1 driver rankings #9: Sergio Perez”

  1. Seems fair enough as a ranking. He had easily the fastest car on the grid, sometimes by a significant margin and yet at times was struggling to finish above cars 2-5 tenths slower per lap. I’d be slightly torn whether he was better than Sainz but I think the fewer accidents probably mean he did pip him.

    1. @slowmo

      I Agree. #9 seems about fair. He should have finished in front of slower cars on many more races. I would rate him higher than Sainz though.. as he made fewer mistakes, and there were are weekends where he generally did deserve the win. Sainz didn’t have race winning pace at any circuit this year, even when Ferrari was quicker than Red Bull. He just lucked in to that British GP win.

  2. I’m struggling to get onboard with some of the rankings this year. The laps lead Vs team-mate boxes were always helpful to back up the narratives and they feel a bit whimsical.

    That’s not to say Perez had an outstanding season, but he got pole on merit when Max wasn’t fully on top of the car yet – a bit Webber-Vettel in that once the main driver worked the car out he was untouchable. I felt his win in Singapore was remarkable – huge pressure and he delivered when we might have expected him to fail.

    Ocon and Vettel ahead of Perez makes little sense to me. Ocon was roundly beaten by a 41yo and Vettel was 14th in the mid season ranking and improved in line with the car performance against Stroll.

    Perez satisfied the remit for me – didn’t crash in the volume of Sainz, picked up the pieces when Max was out. I’d place him about 7th, I’m not sure when a driver who won more than 2 races in a season was 9th in a ranking.

    1. I’m not sure when a driver who won more than 2 races in a season was 9th in a ranking.

      His teammate won 15 races. That hasn’t happened before, either. Also Perez did not win more than 2 races.

      1. @f1mre – ok to clear up English semantics – when have you seen a driver with multiple wins in a season be ranked 9th?

        1. Bottas was ranked 8th here in 2020 with 2 wins.

          1. A fair point @f1mre – however I’d consider 2020 for Bottas to be a disaster. A totally dominant car, he was never at Hamilton’s race pace and was massively outshone by Russell. I also think the peripheral drivers were exceptional that season – Gasly and Perez won races with DR, CL and CS having great performances consistently.

            I don’t see this season having as many other drivers standing out. I think Perez was fairly average without making huge costly errors and up against an all time great at his peak.

            Verstappen was 10/10 for most of the season and few would have got a look in. I see Max as being head and shoulders above everyone this year, in turn making the car look better than it was. I think Checo was a dutiful number 2 fulfilling the role – he performed to my expectations but not any worse than some ahead of him in this ranking.

          2. Yeah, but it’s difficult to judge how good Verstappen was. So comparison remains. It’s a bit like that everywhere in life. You could work in a team full of not too smart people and be a star or you could work in a team full of great talents an be average. With the exact same performance.

        2. Patrese was ranked 8th in 1992, although not in this site.
          Although the 9th here seems right.

          1. Patrese won one race in 1992 and was behind Mansell when he Mansell developed engine issues and retired. Mansell was also a long way ahead of him in qualifying all year.

            For me winning a grand Prix, nevermind 2 tough street races is something to be respected. He was up against a genuinely top class driver this year. I’m not sure how Vettel could outperform someone who won a race on merit. Or Ocon who had no equivalent high points. To me this is too harsh I’d have him 7th.

    2. For reference, Mark Webber’s winless 2013 season – when his teammate won 13 Grand Prix and dominated the World Championship – earned him a #12 position in the driver rankings.


  3. Perez and Verstappen in their two years together
    Qualifying 38-5 Verstappen
    Races-35-7 Verstappen
    Wins-25-3 Verstappen

    Perez should be near the bottom if we actually compare his performances against his teammate. Most overrated driver on the grid. And possibly the most overrated driver of all time. His 2022 was slightly better than his 2022. But that’s a pretty low bar isn’t it?

    1. You gotta show Horner these stats. I’m sure he’ll be horrified.
      What was he thinking when he offered that extension?

      1. Perez hit the jackpot when it comes to timing. If he came in 2019 or 2020 he wouldn’t last a season. The car masks his actual performance. Plus Tsunoda turned out to be worse than predicted and they are unwilling to promote Gasly after his 2019 debacle.

        1. They went with Perez because everyone coming from the drivers program wants to be the next Vettel or Max. They still have the fire in their eyes and won’t accept to play second fiddle as easily.

          But Max is still there. They won’t allow intra team clashes, so it was easier to look outside for someone whose spirit was already broken by endless years of meagre results. Perez was all of that and was on his way out.

          So it’s easy to see why it works out for both parts.

          1. I disagree in this case, when they promoted perez they were pretty desperate because they kept getting drivers who were incapable to perform as well as a number 2 would do, they were waaaaaaaaaaay too far behind to be a number 2, it wasn’t a matter of upsetting verstappen, just a matter of achieving a bare minimum performance.

          2. I don’t think Perez is doing much better. The car is better. So it’s easier to qualify better and start the race already ahead of the pack, not in the middle of it as it was often the case with Gasly and Albon.

            And i don’t think they would upset Max either, but push the team for better treatment. Wasnt the last straw for Gasly there the fact that he yelled at Newey in front of the whole team? I heard that somewhere.

          3. Thankfully we already forgot the Interlagos shenanigans.

  4. Racefans have reported first hand how Perez didn’t have same car specs as Verstappen for a long stint of the season, and when his performance came back it was at same time he received the car upgrades…
    With these budget cap rules it will be harder and harder to judge teammates performances the one against the other, especially if there is a selected #1 driver among the two; bringing budget cap money from the #2 driver to “invest” it in the #1 driver’s car seems an effective way to climb the standings…
    I guess if there is a way to split in half the budget for the 2 cars, to be sure teams can’t favor to much one of the two, and keep the competition alive, avoiding just 10 of the 20 cars can actually compete.

    1. Funny enough it was Perez’ run of damage that gave him the new floor he subsequently didn’t like. Until that one was written off, he got the old spec new floor again.

      Don’t forget, the first run of the season were mostly street tracks, a thing he likes and Verstappen dislikes. The rest had more race tracks and he then lost out big time.

  5. Seems kinda odd to take the time in Checo’s 2022 season assessment to pee on Nicky 2021.

  6. Fair ranking, considering the car he had.

  7. Perez is a journeyman driver and has rarely looked more than that. On this basis, he does a decent enough job for Red Bill whilst they have a significant car advantage.

  8. Fair rating, he’s experienced, quick, but he’s no winner.
    Even Stroll could look good agaisnt him on that very competitive 2020 car in which he failed to get a mere podium until close to the end.

    Red Bull can get better drivers, but he knows his place and does his job. For a team that works for one man only, he’s good enough.

    1. Jonathan Parkin
      16th December 2022, 20:08

      But the thing is, he isn’t allowed to fight Max for the world championship, so saying he isn’t a winner or championship material is difficult to judge because we don’t know

      Many people would have the opinion that Heinz Harald Frentzen wasn’t champion material after two years at Williams yet in his first year at Jordan in a much better environment he was in contention up until he retired from the European GP

      I’m sure Sergio Perez would have been similar

      1. that Heinz Harald Frentzen wasn’t champion material after two years at Williams yet in his first year at Jordan in a much better environment

        Noone can quote 1999 results without also pointing out that Ferrari had a dominant car, a #2 driver who couldn’t step up to the plate when needed, and a hilarious set of replacements for their #1.

        Mika winning that Championship was a fluke. Eddie not winning it will never be anything but the result of his own lack of pace. And HHF wouldn’t have registered in any regular outcome of the season.

        Besides, turns out HHF was not Champion material.

        1. Ferrari 1999 wasn’t dominant, it was up there, perhaps worse than mclaren, and jordan was a bit worse again, which still makes it the best car they ever made, and frentzen did a good job that season, completely different to 1997.

          1. Villeneuve did a great job in 1997. He was the better driver. Although Frentzen had great race pace and was quite unlucky that year. With this great Jordan Car Hill literally got 0 podiums and only 7 points to Frentzen’s 54. That’s ridiculous.

        2. If Hill is champion material, Frentzen is champion material too 100%

          1. No. He just had a very fortunate year and was on the right place to inherit 2 wins.

            Hill on the other hand was 39 and uninterested. GB was to be his last race but for some reason he stayed until the end.

      2. So that’s why Prost, Senna and Schumacher were so successful. They excelled at finding “a much better environment”.

    2. I don’t rate Hill actually that much. He got fortunate with timing. Facing rookie teammates In the best car. He was a good driver but imo drivers like Frentzen or even Ralf Schumacher was more talented.

      I think people should actually try to seperate driver from the car more. If you are not at the right place at the right time with the right teammate you are not going to succeed.

      1. Agreed, It’s quite obvious.
        We can and should have all the sympathy for Damon Hill that we can. That’s not the point and I’m not even questioning the justice of his title.

        But he was clear number 2 for both Senna and Prost. (He was lapped by Senna in Interlagos in the same car.)

        In 1995 Williams was carrying two number 2 drivers, of Senna and Hakkinen

        1. They bottled it big time in 1995. Some of the errors those two did in that season is comedy gold. Coulthard crashed entering the pit lane while leading a race. lol. And many more.

  9. I disagree with this rating. This is too low. Sergio should have been placed a lot higher. He finished the season just a few points behind Charles in the WDC. It is arguable that but for Team Orders he might have been second in the World Drivers’ Championship.

    1. Yes; but for team order he could have finished 2nd.

      But he was in a car so dominant that Nicholas or Yuki might have as well.

    2. It’s not impressive to end up 2nd with by far the best car, and he didn’t even manage that, not a good look, the ranking is fair, though 8th would’ve been possible as well ofc, I expected 8th before checking.

      1. 8th is far too generous for being garbage relative to your teammate.

  10. Sergey Martyn
    18th December 2022, 9:03

    IMHO a bit too low ranking considering the tensions within RB team.

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