Sergio Perez admits he has been surprised by Lance Stroll’s race performances, which have positioned his Racing Point team-mate above him in the drivers’ championship after the first 12 rounds.
Stroll has struggled in qualifying and only once managed to escape Q1 this season, breaking his duck at the German Grand Prix. Although he has often been out-qualified by Perez, Stroll has gone on to score points on four occasions, and the Mexican admits he wasn’t expecting the 20-year-old to be so impressive over a race distance.
“I think since he came I’ve been surprised with his race rhythm, that’s something that caught me out,” Perez said. “I seemed to have a bit more of an advantage historically to my previous team-mates, especially on race pace, and with Lance, the first time, he was up there.
“I think his race pace is quite good. He’s improving. I think the driver he is today to where he was when he arrived, he has improved massively, so there is a lot to come from him. I think he has performed quite well. He is a racer, like me, on Sundays, so he’s done a pretty good job considering the car we’ve had all the way to now.”
While impressed with Stroll, Perez concedes he only has himself to blame for being behind his team-mate in the drivers’ standings after crashing out early on in Germany while the Canadian went on to finish fourth.
“I started the season well,” he said. “I’ve been driving pretty well, no mistakes, maximizing the potential of the car, all the way through the first part of the season. Germany, obviously, I have to take responsibility for that, that has an impact on my season until the summer break, but overall a lot of positives to take, and I expect to have a very strong second half of the season.”