Sergio Perez – 15
The Australian Grand Prix was set to be a fantastic debut for the first Mexican F1 driver in three decades. Qualifying thirteenth in a car that was clearly good – Kobayashi got into ninth on the grid – he and his teammate landed a double points finish, with Checo ahead of Kamui. Even more incredibly, the Mexican had managed a one-stop race on tyres that were much less durable than the Bridgestones. After watching the race, I was buzzing with how amazing Sauber was this season as I went off to church. But when I got back, disappointment set in. Part of Sauber’s rear wing broke the technical regulations. They were disqualified.
Over the next few races, while Kamui picked up lots of points for his team, Checo struggled. Retiring from the Malaysian Grand Prix when something set his fire extinguisher off, he did miserably in China and Turkey as well. Then came the Spanish Grand Prix, and he redeemed himself admirably, picking up two points and one of the ten youngest drivers to score points. The popular driver was on the up.
Monaco. Qualifying. For the first time, Checo got his car into Q3. Hopes were high and everyone was backing the Mexican as he began his flying lap. And then as he came out of the tunnel he lost control, and went spinning side-on into the barrier. The barrier practically engulfed him. Of course the session was immediately red-flagged, and marshalls and an ambulance hurried to the scene. For a long time, the world watched in tension and prayer as we hoped for Checo’s safety.
In the end, he had nothing more than a concussion, and he even watched the GP2 race while he was in the hospital. He missed that race, and after competing in FP1 in Canada he decided not to race there. Since then, he’s had some good races and one bad one. In Valencia he finished 11th, and he picked up six points at the British Grand Prix. At the Nurburgring he again finished 11th.
The Hungarian Grand Prix was not so good for Checo. He was behind Heikki Kovalainen’s Lotus for much of the race, and when he finally overtook the Finn it was under yellow flags. Though he was given a drive-through eventually, the speed of the Sauber meant he still came out ahead of the Lotus. He also came in for some harsh criticism from Jarno Trulli for apparently overtaking using the chicane.
Worst qualifying: 16
Best qualifying: 10
Worst finish: 17 (China)
Best finish: 7 (Britain)
Average difference: 0.38
Laps completed: 493/611 (81%)
Average race position: 13.58 (Best: 9.3 Britain; Worst: 18.1 Turkey)