The 2013 season promises to be one of excitement and unpredictability, not only in the midfield, but also at the sharp end of the grid. There is one young man, though that is stepping from the sometimes cutthroat world of the midfield, to the front where, apart from podiums, pole positions, wins and even championships are expected without request.
This transition is very stark considering the attention from the media the drivers in the top teams receive even for the smallest mistake in a race. It wouldn’t be surprising for a new boy to be overwhelmed by the scrutiny and pressure that comes with being in a top team.
This is exactly what Sergio Perez is reveling in until March 18th. He has made it very clear that he wants to be in the championship fight until the very end. Wins are his goal and the championship is his dream. These are bold words from a driver who has only been in the sport for 2 years.
One only has to look at the last third of the 2012 season to understand why the young Mexican might want to impress. After being confirmed as Lewis Hamilton’s replacement at Mclaren, Sergio failed to score a point for the rest of the season. Sometimes the lack of results were his fault, sometimes not, but the pressure was clearly doing something to his performances, regardless of what he told the press. Even Mclaren’s reassurances to the media didn’t help to diminish the fire of Perez’s late season downfall.
Regardless of these facts, Perez is very confident in his abilities, often stating that he will be something of a changed driver when he lines up on the grid in Melbourne.
The truth of the matter is this: he is, or at least needs to be, right. He must be a different driver or else Mclaren will regret the day they didn’t snatch up Nico Hulkenberg when they had the chance.
What Sergio needs to do in 2013 is play to his strengths. Throughout 2012 we saw Perez attempting, and usually pulling off, one-stop strategies. His three podiums in 2012 were all aided by making great tire calls. If Sergio plays it safe for the first few races of 2013, while making the most of tire strategy, he will do more good for himself and the team than he would if he drove flat out to win every race.
Sergio also needs to take advantage of Jenson’s vast knowledge of how to succeed at Mclaren, because he has enjoyed his fare share of it. Sergio will be able to learn what the team expects from him both on and off the track. Jenson is a nice and willing guy who will do enough to make sure Sergio is welcome at Mclaren. Whether they will be friends remains to be seen, but it seems at least that they are on friendly terms.
For the sake of Sergio, and Mclaren, I hope he backs off the physical intensity and focuses more on becoming more mentally intense. This is the only way he will be able to ease into the pressure brought on by Mclaren.