Back in 2012 Sergio Perez became known as Formula One’s ‘tyre whisperer’. He could ease his tyres through stints sometimes twice as long as his rivals, and the skill brought him three fantastic podiums that season. The 2015 Russian Grand Prix saw the return of that skill in Perez as he dragged a set of Pirelli softs through a mammoth 40-lap stint.
Perez started his Russian Grand Prix weekend on the back foot with a rain interrupted Friday and Carlos Sainz’s terrifying crash on Saturday morning. It led to him being out-qualified by the smallest of margins by Force India team-mate Nico Hulkenberg, the intra-team battle at Force India having been one of the closest and most interesting of the year.
The threat Perez faced from Hulkenberg was quickly removed in the race as the German crashed out. Nico Rosberg’s retirement promoted Perez to a very healthy 5th place in the order, before Romain Grosjean crashed out heavily on lap 11. Force India chose to bring Perez in for his mandatory stop to change type compounds on lap 12, and it was a call that helped him rise to 3rd once all the other runners had pitted.
Perez used his experience to brilliant effect from then on, never pushing his tyres too hard, yet keeping enough pace to stay with the Williams and Ferraris around him. It showed just how far he has come as a racing driver since his debut in 2011; gone is the desperate youngster who would make terribly desperate moves, on occasion, and in his place was an intelligent and mature man who seems to be the rock of his team at the moment.
Perez could so easily have fought Valterri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen as they caught him hand-over-fist towards the end of the race, but he knew when to let it go, he knew his team needed a solid points finish more than he needed to prove a point. As it was, Bottas and Raikkonen ended up colliding themselves and Perez snatched a very well deserved podium finish, proving that sometimes patience really is a virtue.
The result was a much needed boost for Force India, who had been struggling at the start of the year, yet have managed to keep up spirits to giant kill with their Mexican charger.
We couldn’t be more pleased to hand you Top Dog for Russia Checo!