It’s becoming increasingly clear that the battle for Rookie of the Season is coming down to a battle between two men: Force India’s Paul Di Resta and Sauber’s Sergio Perez. For the latter, Suzuka was a clear demonstration that he has a tactical brain to go with his natural speed, especially when it came to managing his tyres.

Easy does it Sergio...- Photo Credit: Sutton Images

Starting way down in 17th place, and on the prime tyre, it was all about eking out the grip as the race went along. He managed to negotiate traffic well and keep on par with the cars in front of him. Perez crept into the top ten after the first round of stops – mainly due to not stopping himself – before establishing himself there when all the other cars stopped again.

It was plain to see how well he had used his primes in relation to the front runners – by the time Sebastian Vettel stopped for a second time, the Sauber hadn’t made a stop!

But, the best was yet to come when Sergio finally got on the option tyre. Trying to make some space between himself, Vitaly Petrov and the fast charging Nico Rosberg, the lap times began to tumble. So much so, that Perez set the fastest lap of the race, which he held right up until the penultimate lap. Super stuff, and a just deserved eighth place for him too!

There maybe 4 races left in the hunt for top new boy, but this showing didn’t so Sergio Perez’s chances any harm at all.

Rookie of the Year 2011? - Sutton Images