Perez to McLaren - A mistake by Ferrari?

 

Well, what a morning that was! Lewis Hamilton moves to Mercedes and is replaced by the extremely promising talent Sergio Perez. By now you'll have probably read several (hundred) of posts and articles looking at the Hamilton to Mercedes move, but what I find more intriguing and interesting is who he's been replaced by. Sergio Perez is (/was) part of the Ferrari Driver Academy, the scheme that gives young drivers the chance to be mentored and guided through the various lower formulae and into Formula 1. Many had thought that Perez would eventually end up in a Ferrari to partner Fernando Alonso, whether that would be in 2013 or 2014. However, as we woke today the news had broken that McLaren had moved to s Not just that, but to let him go to arguably their biggest rivals?

In my opinion there were three drivers that McLaren could have replaced Lewis with. These were Paul Di Resta, Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez. The Force India pair of Di Resta and Hulkenberg have impressed many this season and it appeared that at least one of them would move on, either to McLaren or Mercedes. Obviously now that won't happen and you'd assume that both will stay put. They clearly both are very good drivers, as shown in recent races, but it'd be hard to disagree with the fact that Perez has had a better season. Three podium finishes already this season, whilst racing for a midfield team, is a remarkable achievement.

So as you may have gathered, I think Sergio Perez was the best possible replacement for Lewis Hamilton. The oddest part of this story though, for me at least, is the apparent lack of desire from Ferrari to want Perez on board. He's had a huge impact on the sport, both on and off the track, and has outperformed and outclassed team mate Kamui Kobayashi for the majority of the season. He's achieved things in that car that you suspect many others couldn't, and arguably should have won one, if not two, races this season. So why would Ferrari not want him?

"Next season is too early," Di Montezemolo told Sky Sports News. "I'm very pleased for him because first of all it showed that our choice when we picked up him as a young driver was good. Then it is thanks to Sauber, thanks to the Ferrari Academy, he grows up." "To put a young guy to Ferrari with the pressure of Ferrari, you need more experience."

Perez's career appeared to be following pattern to that of, ironically, Felipe Massa. Felipe was also part of the Driver Academy, raced for Sauber and then moved up to Ferrari. Felipe Massa spent three seasons driving for Sauber, but didn't really show the same kind of promise that Perez has done in his under 2 years in the sport. The argument from Di Montezemolo about needing more experience just doesn't stack up for me, especially given how Felipe Massa got his drive at Ferrari back in 2006.

Massa has been a success for Ferrari and has probably exceeded almost everyone's expectations whilst there, especially during the 2008 season. He was one corner away from winning the World Championship; you can't really get much closer can you? So that begs the question, if Massa did that well, what potentially could Perez have done for the great Ferrari?

The comments from Di Montezemolo suggest he thinks Perez isn't ready for the drive, something I (and clearly McLaren) can only disagree with. There has been a lot of talk recently about a lack of quality young drivers not only in Formula 1, but the lower categories as well. Well for me, the 22-year-old Mexican is the brightest of those young talents, and he's already got 2 years experience under his belt. He's up there with the most impressive drivers of the season, along with Alonso and Raikkonen, and as stated earlier, he could have at least one race win to his name this season.

Not only is Perez one for the future, he's also one for the present. I have no doubts that he'll be able to make the step up to McLaren with relatively little issue and will instantly start to show his class. The Mexican has two very big things going for him; talent and money. We all know that money talks in modern Formula 1, but at the end of the day talent does (well, at least it should) shine through. Talent is something Perez definitely possesses and McLaren have obviously seen enough to bring in him to the team. One thing is for certain, the pairing of Jenson Button and Sergio Perez will be the best tyre management and preservation team in the paddock.

So can Perez shine from the off at McLaren? He, the team and many others (including me) think he will. He thinks he can make an impact straight away and has moved to McLaren to fight for the championship, starting in 2013. If the young Mexican can make an impact in the first few races for McLaren, challenging for podiums or race victories, will Ferrari regret their decision to not hire him? Although Massa's recent form has been better, the season as a whole has not been good enough and has led to season long rumours of a replacement, thought to be Perez. In my opinion they should have swapped Massa for Perez, but seemingly have decided to stick with Massa. If I was a Ferrari fan I'd be slightly concerned that Perez wasn't signed up, given the undoubted current and potential talent and pure skill he has. Perez has everything to be a World Champion and I truly believe he could do that with McLaren; a team known for winning and challenging for championships on a yearly basis. So will Ferrari regret not acquiring Perez? In my opinion, yes.

Image Source - Sergio Perez

Top Drivers

 
Driver Points
Hamilton 252
Rosberg 211
Vettel 203
Raikkonen 107
Bottas 101
Massa 97
 

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