Sergio Perez’s capacity for managing tyre slip is akin to “built-in traction control” and is part of the reason why he’s one of the most underrated drivers in Formula 1, according to Racing Point technical director Andrew Green.
Speaking in an interview with Formula 1’s Beyond the Grid podcast, Green laid out Perez’s strengths in terms of tyre management, feedback and race-day execution.
Perez has been adept at tyre management since coming into F1 with Sauber in 2011, finishing seventh before being excluded for a technical infringement on his debut in the Australian Grand Prix after being the only driver to complete a one-stop strategy. At the time, he credited his aptitude to the demands of tyre management he faced in GP2.
Last season, Perez was a consistently strong midfield performer, finishing second to Carlos Sainz in the unofficial ‘Class B’ championship, judged by awarding points for races disregarding the three top teams. His tyre management and capacity to lap at competitive speeds while looking after the Pirellis played a key role in some of his results – including his superb run to seventh in the Mexican Grand Prix.
“He’s massively underrated,” said Green. “I think he’s absolutely at the peak of his career now, he’s not fazed by anything.
“His feedback has always been amazing, his mental capacity to drive the car and feed back on what the car is doing – and on a Sunday afternoon with the race around him – means for me he is one of the best.
“His tyre management is in the top two or three on the grid, there’s not many who can do better. He just has that feeling as he goes into the corner of what the tyre’s doing, what it needs, what he needs out of it.
“His slip control on the throttle coming out of the corners is just remarkable, it’s like he’s got built-in traction control.”
Perez has proved himself as an outstanding performer in race conditions during his F1 career, but while his qualifying record is respectable it is the less impressive aspect of his game.
Green accepts this, but suggests it’s also partly down to Perez’s set-up preferences, which lean towards protecting the rears not only in terms of ensuring the car has an understeer balance in qualifying but also the way the rears are loaded.
“He understands that his weakness is a Saturday afternoon in qualifying,” said Green.
“But I think part of that is driven by the fact that he likes to set the car up for his driving style on a Sunday afternoon. And sometimes that isn’t always the quickest way to set your car up on a Saturday afternoon.
“But he’s absolutely insistent, ‘this is the way I want it’. And I think time and time again, he’s proven to be right.
“Occasionally he overdoes it and we end up poor on Saturday and Sunday, but very rare.”