Sergio Pérez’s underwhelming start to his McLaren career has raised plenty of eyebrows up and down the paddock, not least of which being in the Woking team itself.
After the Mexican’s error-ridden Chinese Grand Prix – which included a crash in the opening practice session and a collision with Kimi Räikkönen during the race itself – team boss Martin Whitmarsh has called upon the team’s new signing to “toughen up”.
Of particular concern is his poor racecraft. The 23-year-old was criticised by both Räikkönen and the man he replaced at the team, Lewis Hamilton, for some rather wild racing lines during yesterday’s 56-lap race.
‘What the hell is he doing?’ screams Räikkönen after hitting Pérez during the Chinese Grand Prix
But it’s in other races where Pérez has been too meek while under attack from chasing cars, easily surrendering positions to rival drivers at the preceding rounds in Australia and Malaysia.
“Sergio has been very polite so far this year, I think he needs to toughen up,” Whitmarsh told the Guardian newspaper after his race to eleventh place – one spot above his starting position – at the Shanghai International Circuit.
“He’s been generous in allowing people past him. I said to him you have to be racing and that means sometimes you’ve got elbows and you’ve got to be robust without being dirty.”
The criticism hasn’t stopped outside the McLaren circles either, with former McLaren driver-turned-commentator Martin Brundle going so far as to suggest that Sauber sign-up Nico Hülkenberg would have been a much better selection than Pérez.
“I still don’t understand why McLaren didn’t sign [Hülkenberg] up,” Brundle was quoted as saying by the Speed Week magazine.
“I would have signed him ten times before Perez.”
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