Team: Sahara Force India
Car No.: 11
Best Finish: 3rd (Monaco, Europe)
Fastest Laps: 0
Laps Led: 0
Championship Position: 7th
Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)
2016 was another year that saw Sergio Perez’s stock rise. After impressing through 2015, the Mexican took things to the next level with two podium finishes for Force India as the team finished a best-ever fourth in the constructors’ championship.
Perez made a quiet start to the season, but as Force India began to find its feet and cosy up to Williams in the pecking order, Checo became strong. His charge to third in Monaco was a mix of great strategy and great driving, but his finest hour came in Baku. After qualifying second on the grid on merit (and looking set for pole at one point), Perez dropped to P7 after a grid penalty, only to then charge back to a third-place finish.
Perez’s form led to interest from Renault for 2017, but the Mexican decided to stay put at Force India for another year at least, with Ferrari being a rumored destination for the following year. It is easy to see why he is so coveted, for not only does he have bags of pace and is a safe pair of hands, but he can also turn up on occasion with big results (something teammate Nico Hulkenberg has struggled to do).
2017 should offer big rewards to drivers who can keep on top of their tires. If that does indeed prove to be the case, then watch for Perez as being one of the breakout stars.
Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)
The single-year stall at McLaren could have damaged most drivers’ careers, but it speaks volumes of Sergio Perez’s resilience that in the three years since, he has fully re-established himself as the leading light in F1’s midfield. And it’s a fitting spot for him, really, because what he’s done is help raise Sahara Force India along with him.
Despite a somewhat inconsistent first half of the season through the Austrian Grand Prix, Perez scored an opportunistic podium at Monaco and delivered one of the weekends of his career at Baku. From Silverstone through Abu Dhabi meanwhile, Perez only failed to score once, with four top-six finishes peppered in that stretch.
Perez largely eclipsed Nico Hulkenberg as well for a third straight year. Hulkenberg had some strategic misfires that cost him a couple potential podium finishes but nonetheless Perez seized his chances. He was a thoroughly deserved P7 in points.