Team: Sahara Force India F1 Team
Car No.: 11
Best Finish: 3rd (Russia)
Fastest Laps: 0
Laps Led: 0
Championship Position: 9th
Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)
Sergio Perez has always proven to be something of an enigma within Formula 1. After storming onto the scene with Sauber and then being unceremoniously dumped by McLaren, Perez sought refuge at Force India in 2014, but has now settled into the role of team leader.
It seems odd to say that given how much Nico Hulkenberg is hyped up, yet Perez was the man who brought home the bacon throughout 2015. Financial issues meant the new car did not debut until the final pre-season test, and the B-spec version with updates didn’t arrive until Silverstone.
However, this was a clear turning point for both Perez and Force India. In the final nine races of the year, Perez failed to score just twice, and even picked up just the third podium in Force India’s history in Russia thanks to a last lap clash between Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas. At Spa, he challenged Lewis Hamilton for the lead early on, and even recorded his best ever qualifying result in Abu Dhabi.
It was a good year for Perez, and one has to question just how much higher he would be in the championship standings had Force India not struggled so much in the early part of the season.
Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)
It took five years, but Sergio Perez appears to have finally found a home in the sport with Sahara Force India. Subsequently, he enjoyed his best season yet that was even better than the stats would indicate.
For 2015 marked his first time continuing with the same team in three years, it was obvious that continuity paid dividends. He and teammate Nico Hulkenberg made the best of their circumstances with the older chassis to start the year; once the new chassis was introduced midseason is roughly when Perez came alive, and doing so following Hulkenberg’s highly covered win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Four top-five finishes in the final nine races were the most for any driver outside the Mercedes, Ferrari and Williams camps in that time period and additionally, Hulkenberg didn’t have a single one both in that time period or all season. It showcased a hungry driver keen to impress; one who perhaps hadn’t got his fair due for his overall skills in F1 machinery beyond his tire conservation ability. Racing in Mexico was also a highlight for him. File this campaign under the “was better than the final standings will indicate” folder.