The Mexican driver has so far failed to show the raw pace and speed illustrated in the first half of 2012 when he drove for the Sauber team. Some slammed to move by McLaren to sign him in the first place and cited Nico Hulkenberg or Paul Di Resta as more suitable drivers for the seat.
Perez’s confidence is already low after a poor season opening in Australia, benefiting from others problems to finish ninth in Malaysia and another non-score in Shanghai. Granted, the McLaren car is no easy car to drive and even Jenson Button has criticised its handling and ride. However Whitmarsh obviously expects better from him.
Talking to the Guardian Whitmarsh said ”
I think he’s been very polite so far this year, he needs to toughen up. He’s been generous in allowing people past him.”
He added “He’s still a very young guy in a big team with lots of expectations so you’re under a lot more scrutiny and it’s tougher.
“And he’s got a team-mate [Button] who’s doing a great job, so there’s some pressure there, and this won’t go down as his best weekend, of that I’m sure.”
The Chinese Grand Prix was a tough race for Perez. He started on the medium compound tyre, like his team-mate, before moving on to the soft Pirelli rubber for a short middle stint. He then completed the final laps of the race on worn medium tyres and ended up just outside the points in 11th.
Speaking in a team statement after the race, he evaluated his performance. ”This was a difficult afternoon for me – there’s a lot for us to analyse, and a lot to learn. It wasn’t my best weekend in terms of pace, so there’s some work to do.
“I had a reasonably good first stint and thought we could achieve a good result with the strategy, but then we encountered degradation with the tyres and that compromised our pace.
“We still don’t have the speed in the car, but it’s been a useful learning weekend for the whole team, we got some useful points on the board, and we head to the next race with a clearer idea of just what we can do.”
He also added his congratulations to team-mate Jenson Button who made his two stop strategy work. “Congratulation to Jenson – he drove a fantastic race today. He found a better rhythm and really made the strategy work. I couldn’t find a flow throughout the whole race and was struggling with the car. ”
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic