F1 2016 Driver Review: Sergio Perez

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Sergio Perez

Team: Sahara Force India
Car No.: 11
Races: 21
Podiums: 2
Best Finish: 3rd (Monaco, Europe)
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 101
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.

Jack Miller wins the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his downward points’ slide

MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix
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Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.