By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
Motorsports Tribune reviews the top 10 from the 2017 Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championship. Our list moves on to seventh-place finisher in the standings, Sergio Perez.
Sergio Perez, No. 11 Sahara Force India Formula One Team
- 2017: 7th in the championship, 100 points
- Wins: 0, Podiums: 0, Top 5: 2, Top 10: 17, Poles: 0, Laps Led: 0, Fastest Laps: 1
- Best Finish: 5th – Two times (Canada, Singapore)
The 2017 season of Sergio Perez is a really interesting one for several reasons. On its own, the 27-year-old Mexican had a very business as usual campaign with a few top 5 finishes to pair with a healthy blend of 17 top 10 results. On the flipside, many saw the rise of new Sahara Force India teammate, Esteban Ocon – who was running his first full season in 2017 – of whom beat Perez on eight separate occasions, including three straight near the end of the year (Japan, United States and Mexico).
The year for Perez started off quite solidly, finishing in the points in six of the opening seven races with the lone exception being a 12th-place finish at Monaco. Ironically, the place he scored his lone DHL Fastest Lap Award.
The season-high of fourth came one race earlier in the Spanish Grand Prix at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Despite the solid year, missed opportunities were apparent for Perez, most significantly in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku. After starting sixth on the grid, the race of attrition looked to fall in Sahara Force India’s favor as both drivers were on par for a podium and potentially a win. However, both drivers made contact, which was significant enough to force Perez to retire and push Ocon down to sixth, thus leaving the team without the ideal double podium finish.
The rivalry with Ocon would continue for several races thereafter, but after another clash and DNF (did not finish) in the Belgian Grand Prix at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps the team finally decided to clamp down with team orders.
Although team orders didn’t mitigate a series of frustrated radio calls for the remainder of the year, it did halt the persistent contact with each other on track. The retirement at Spa-Francorchamps would prove to be his only retirement in the second half of the season and only finish outside the top 10.
Perez was handed a gift in Singapore when a wet track and high-pressured start led to retirements at the front of the pack for Max Verstappen, Kimi Raikkonen and pole sitter Sebastian Vettel. The Marina Bay street circuit was never favorable for the VJM10. However, the early retirements combined with a clean race pushed Perez to a strong fifth-place finish.
Consistency allowed Perez to match his career-best championship finish of seventh from a year ago, while only scoring one less point in comparison (101-100). Additionally, he also beat out Ocon by 13 points and one position in the overall standings.
Looking ahead, Perez returns to Sahara Force India – as does Ocon – in what is still widely regarded as the best team not named Ferrari, Mercedes, or Red Bull. Only time will tell if together both Perez and Ocon can seize strong results for the team instead of implode.