Who will replace Sergio Perez? The appointment of Sergio Perez to McLaren was always going to be a risk taken by the Boss’s at the team. It seems so far that it was a risk that has backfired for them.
In defense of McLaren in Sergio’s short spell at Sauber he was exciting, overtaking cars, taking risks to gain places, he drove in a similar fashion to Lewis Hamilton, the man for who McLaren needed a replacement. His lack of F1 experience would possibly have put some team bosses off hiring him for a team who aim to win world championships but McLaren chose who they wanted.
Just recently we have seen Red Bull choose a young inexperienced driver to join their team in Daniel Ricciardo. The circumstances are a little different because Ricciardo drives for Toro Rosso who are a feeder team for Red Bull so it is somewhat like a promotion for Ricciardo rather than the team hiring someone new. So McLaren weren’t crazy for hiring Perez but now that it seems like the risk hasn’t paid off we look ahead to who could replace Perez at McLaren.
Well, McLaren have stated that their main target is Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. The ambition from McLaren has to be admired but I cannot see Alonso switching from Ferrari to McLaren. There are five top teams in F1; Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes, Lotus and McLaren. This season McLaren have found themselves at the bottom of this group actually fighting off Force India from the middle teams in the Constructors’ Championship. Therefore why would he switch to an under performing team when, although Alonso is over-performing in his car, Ferrari currently sit 2nd in the Constructors’.
Another possibility for McLaren would be Paul Di Resta. He has had two very solid seasons with Force India finishing 13th and 14th in the Drivers’ Championship but this season he has really kicked on. With 7 points finishes in his opening 8 races, including 4th in Bahrain, he exploded into the 2013 season. It is such a shame that his previous four races have all ended in retirement and put a pause to his incredible season. However, he still sits 10th in the Drivers’ Championship which is testament to how well he started. I previously mentioned that there are five top teams in F1, the Force India cannot compete with these cars therefore Paul Di Resta needs to aim for an 11th spot finish in the Drivers’ Championship to show he is the best driver in the middle teams and deserves to be in a better car. The fact that he is 10th, two places above Sergio Perez, tells McLaren all they need to know. He is young, he is British and he is highly talented so for me I see him as a definite favorite to partner Jenson Button next season.
The other man who McLaren should be short-listing for the drive is Felipe Massa. He has just lost his seat for next season to Kimi Raikkonen and I am sure Massa is still capable of consistent points finishes with a top team. He has shown at Ferrari that he can be a great number 2 driver for example compromising his own finishing position to help out the number 1 driver in the team. He hasn’t been the same since that horrific injury in 2009 at the Hungarian Grand Prix and who can blame him, it must change how you are in the car after such a freak incident. So Massa could bring some stability to McLaren. He won’t help lift them to the top of the Constructors’, I don’t think anynobody will, but he is proven at this level and could help McLaren and Jenson Button at least challenge for podiums given the right car.
To conclude, McLaren are still a big team and a big name in F1 and can therefore coax many drivers to come and join the team for the 2014 season, unfortunately I don’t think Alonso falls into this category. So they have a few ways they can go about choosing their second driver. They could go for a young and hungry driver in the shape of Paul Di Resta, an older but more reliable driver in Felipe Massa or keep faith with Sergio Perez and hope for improvement. Perez has come to the team at a time when they have a terrible car so he most likely feels like he hasn’t had a fair crack of the whip, therefore if he is a persuasive man maybe he has managed to persuade McLaren bosses that given the right car he is still the man to partner Button. Could the fact that Button doesn’t get along with Perez play a part in the Mexican’s possible departure?
If I was the one choosing the driver I would go with Paul Di Resta as he definitely has a promising career in F1.