Sergio Perez

Inside Line: Perez does himself no favours

Sergio Perez

One of the biggest debates to emerge in the aftermath of the Canadian Grand Prix is whether Sergio Perez should have ceded position to his Force India teammate to Esteban Ocon who looked capable of challenging for a podium position on the day.

Perez was told by his team over the radio to allow Ocon past so that the youngster could mount a challenge on third placed Daniel Ricciardo. They also said that if he was unsuccessful they would reverse the order – so in effect Perez had nothing to lose.

Perez stubbornly refused to budge as his eager teammate danced under his rear wing. We are not privy to all of the team’s communication with their driver, but it transpires that Perez convinced them otherwise, thus denying Ocon a possible third place and costing his team a chunk of points.

The team have unanimously backed the Mexican, when most would have thought that a serious bollocking would be in order.

The squabble between the pink cars slowed them enough for Sebastian Vettel to reel them in and pass them comfortably to claim fourth place. Perez was fifth with an obedient Ocon sixth.

My head and my heart are in conflict with regards to the saga. My head tells me that Perez did the right thing to argue against the instruction. Racers race, they don’t give a damn about team orders.

Imagine Ayrton Senna or even Lewis Hamilton being told to move over – not going to happen. So from that stand point Perez did the right thing.

But I watch Formula 1 with my heart switched on and brain in neutral. Thus while things unfolded in Montreal I was flabbergasted by Perez’s obstinance. Beckoning him out the way.

Again it must be said he had little to lose – Ocon would try and do the Red Bull and if unsuccessful tuck in behind Perez –  and he would have shown himself to be a team player. Not only to his team but also to team managers who may be considering him… Ferrari for instance.

The Reds need a team player in their books to partner Sebastian Vettel if Kimi Raikkonen does depart the team at the end of the season. Perez is an option, but I would venture he did himself no favours on the day because teamwork wins constructors’ championship s and that’s what pays team manager’s salaries.

Indeed I would even go as far as saying that if team managers do have a list of drivers they watch every weekend with a view to hiring them should the need arise, then Perez would have dropped a notch or two on their lists, while Ocon may well have risen up the list.

McLaren stalwart Jo Ramirez, a Mexican, who knows a thing or two about Formula 1 and race drivers, pointed out Perez’s shortcomings a couple of years ago.

Ramirez, who was once an advisor to Perez and a Senna confident during the McLaren era, said, “The syndrome of becoming an F1 driver went to his head very fas. Checo grew a lot as a driver during the last three years in F1, but unfortunately he didn’t grow as a person at the same rate.”

“Sergio was not good enough as a person. He did not really cooperate with the team, he was at no time a part of the team, he was cocky. His attitude was: I am now a Formula 1 driver – I know the drill.”

Of Perez’s time at McLaren, Ramirez revealed, “His attitude was very bad. He was unpopular with the engineers, with everyone in the team – he was regarded as very arrogant.”

“Formula 1 is not just about commitment; it’s more than that. It’s interaction, working together, two sides committed to the same goals; winning and losing together. Perez is not the kind of man who does that,” added Ramirez.

Prior to McLaren, Perez made his debut with Sauber, where he stayed for two years. But by all accounts the Swiss team were hardly aggrieved when they saw the back of him.

Respected F1 journo Livio Oricchio recalls, “He has an arrogant attitude. In summary, human relationships have so much to do with success in Formula 1. Without it, you go nowhere.”

Harsh words from two F1 veterans. Some will argue that Perez has changed and mellowed over the years with Force India, but in Canada – the occasion of his 122nd grand prix start – he did himself no favours.

Big Question: Did Sergio do the right thing to not cede position to Esteban in Montreal?