On the eve of the Turkish Grand Prix, Sergio Perez revealed that he’d contemplate taking a sabbatical from F1 in 2021. That Checo ought to observe his feedback up 72 hours later with the rostrum he’d been denied a fortnight earlier in Imola left even F1 supremo Ross Brawn flummoxed as to how this most spectacular of racers may very well be left on the sidelines.
“It could be a tragedy if he isn’t in F1 subsequent yr,” Brawn wrote in his regular F1.com column. “He greater than deserves his place on the grid. Should you’re a workforce [that] desires a aggressive driver to maximise each alternative, Perez is your man.”
Few might argue with Brawn’s conclusions. Over the previous decade, Sergio Perez has grow to be one of the vital spectacular and reliable racers in Formulation 1, persistently taking his tools to locations few believed it had any proper to be. If there was an opportunity of a shock podium outdoors the highest three groups over all that point, you might have put your home on it being Checo who was there to seize it.
WATCH: ‘Yet one more lap and the tyre would have exploded!’ – Sergio Pérez crosses the road P2 in Turkey
He’s stood on that podium 9 occasions in his Formulation 1 profession and by no means as soon as with one of many recognised prime groups. Of the present area, solely Romain Grosjean has extra podiums racing for groups apart from Mercedes, Ferrari and Pink Bull, and so they all got here within the halcyon years the place Lotus had been a daily contender.
He nonetheless kicks himself for his yr at McLaren, as evidenced by his latest remarks that he’d be extra ready at present to make the perfect of an opportunity at a prime workforce, ought to the Pink Bull alternative come off.
I’ve all the time felt he was judged unfairly for that seemingly ill-fated 2013 season. Having spurned Ferrari (and the prospect of a drive in 2014) to leap to Woking as Lewis Hamilton’s alternative, he sadly discovered an uncompetitive automobile and a workforce in decline. However the way in which he took the battle to Jenson Button all the time impressed me. He bought his elbows out and went racing. I liked that about him.
He rapidly discovered his ft and matured into the rounded racer we all know at present at Power India. After his first season on the workforce the place he was bested by Nico Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez has been the squad’s greatest scorer yearly.
He’s led his workforce to best-of-the-rest standing yr after yr on a funds a fraction of their rivals. He’s extracted all the things and grow to be a talismanic focus and motivator for your entire outfit.
Certain he can throw his toys out of the pram now and again, however at his core he’s grow to be one of the vital routinely spectacular, most persistently aggressive and most solidly reliable racers the game has recognized this decade.
I’d argue that 2020 has been essentially the most making an attempt season of Sergio Perez’s profession. It has taken all of his psychological fortitude to keep up his composure and his competitiveness and to press on regardless.
One ought to by no means overlook the real love that Perez has for the workforce, nor that without his actions and the impossible decision he took that led to Force India’s transformation into Racing Point, that squad won’t exist in any respect.
It’s unhappy that it’s come to this. Sadder nonetheless that Formulation 1 could discover itself with out Sergio Perez in 2021.
He’s fourth on this planet championship. Fourth! After contracting Covid-19 and lacking two races. He’s 30 factors forward of Pink Bull’s Alex Albon, driving the second-best automobile within the area. He’s 41 factors forward of his workforce mate Lance Stroll. He’s two factors off essentially the most he’s ever scored in a season, and all in a calendar composed of the fewest races he’s ever contested.
He’s by no means raced higher. By no means been extra ready. By no means deserved his shot at a prime seat extra.
It’s a measure of simply how distinctive a racer Sergio Perez has grow to be, that with all the things that’s been thrown at him in 2020 he’s taking a look at his greatest ever championship place at season’s finish. It’s an indication of simply what a prime workforce might have.
It’s unfathomable to suppose that the fourth greatest driver in Formulation 1 may go with out a seat.
And but he may. And we’ll all be the poorer for it.