McLaren wrongly judged Perez for a bad 2013 season start

Despite this, Perez proved his worth by earning valuable points and consistently outperforming expectations.

Sergio Michel "Checo" Pérez Mendoza, is a Mexican racing driver who races in F1 for Red Bull Racing. He joined McLaren as their driver in 2013, after Lewis Hamilton's departure. However, he did not spend much time there, as he was replaced by Kevin Magnussen. During his third season, he finished 11th in the Driver's standings, and he was 24 points behind Jenson Button.

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All the same, things have taken a really huge turn for him as he secured his first win with Racing Point in 2020 and also helped Red Bull back to the top by reclaiming its Constructors’ title. However, McLaren on the other end is not performing quite up to standard, as they are finding themselves bottom of the 2023 standings. 

During the F1 Nation podcast, Damon Hill, the 1996 F1 World Champion, admitted that he thinks McLaren wrongly interpreted Perez during his debut season. “I’ve always been impressed with Checo from when he was leading that race, the 2012 Malaysian Grand Prix in Malaysia in the wet in the Sauber," said Hill. 

He continued, “His first podium and I remember thinking ‘this guy’s good’. I’ve watched him throughout his career and I kept on saying, ‘why does nobody give this guy a break?'” 

The podcast host, Tom Clarkson, suggested that McLaren gave Perez a break, but maybe he was not ready for it. “That’s a very sad fact,” Hill replied. “I think he was wrongly interpreted. I think his laid-back, relaxed style was interpreted by that team as diffident and not trying hard. But I just think that’s a mistake. I just think they decided he wasn’t a good fit for their mindset for what they wanted, and I think it went wrong from there. He’s clawed his way back, and he’s got himself into a place here. Now he’s in a team like Red Bull, and he’s tough enough to cope with the pressure that you get in a team like Red Bull. I won’t say it is water off a duck’s back, but if he was a younger driver, as we’ve seen in Red Bull, younger drivers get crushed by that environment, he’s not going to get crushed.”

Perez has been doing quite well for himself and Red Bull, but the question on everyone's mind is whether he can match to Max Verstappen's standards. “I’m sure they, Red Bull, will allow Perez to fight for the title,” Hill commented. “But I think they will prefer Max to win, and I think Max will ultimately prevail. I just don’t think that Checo has the ultimate speed and ruthlessness that Max does and the commitment to being quick.”

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