The fact that Sergio Perez has yet to secure himself a seat in a race-winning car in Formula 1 is “a travesty” according to Force India’s deputy team principal Bob Fernley.
Perez made his debut for Sauber and then joined McLaren in 2013 after securing multiple podiums, but the team was in decline and he failed to finish a race in the top three before being dropped after just one season. Joining Force India in 2014, Perez has gone on to deliver consistent point-scoring results as well as a number of standout podiums and added another to his tally with third place in Baku last weekend.
“I’ve said to many people he is one of the most underestimated drivers,” Fernley told RACER. “He is such a superb racer, and if there is a sniff of the podium he’ll get it. As much as we obviously value him dearly, I think it’s a travesty that he’s not been able to be picked up by one of the front-running teams.”
Asked if he feels Perez will eventually still get a chance at the front of the grid or if that opportunity has passed him by, Fernley added: “I don’t think he’s gone past it at all, I think people should be looking at him. He’s just a superb race driver.”
However, Fernley was also keen to point out the influence of the team around Perez during Sunday’s race, highlighting how Force India capitalized on another chaotic race in Azerbaijan after the Mexican had suffered damage on the opening lap.
“He had all sorts of problems and I thought we were going through hell again! I think what was really good about Sunday from my point of view is that it was an incredible team effort.
“First of all, he had the incident, the pit wall was incredible calm and calculated – brought him in with what we thought was some wing damage that wouldn’t survive the race – took the penalty on that and got him back progressively up to seventh place again just by picking off one by one the opposition and then the pit stops.
“Obviously we picked up a five-second penalty. The pit crew did an amazing job recovering from that and still got out in front of [Romain] Grosjean and then obviously Checo took the opportunities when they came to him. Across the board it was just a superb team effort.”