Top 10 F1 Drivers of the Year 2012:
8: Sergio Perez
January 29, 1990
Crash.net F1 Driver of 2011 position:
Coming off a solid, if unspectacular, rookie season in 2011, Sergio Perez thrust himself on the F1 consciousness by chasing Fernando Alonso home at the Malaysian Grand Prix in March.
The Mexican could feasibly have won the race had it not been for a minor mistake in the closing laps that forced him to race back onto Alonso's tail, and he instantly became the favourite to partner the Spaniard at Maranello in 2013.
Similar performances in Canada and Italy confirmed Perez's potential, but were ranged amongst other results limited by Sauber's performance. Immediately after his Sepang high, the Mexican recorded three eleventh place finishes, interrupted by a DNF in Barcelona. That streak was ended by third place in Montreal that was built on another signature tyre-preserving run.
Minor points followed through the summer before the Sauber proved effective at Monza, allowing Perez to carve his way through the field. Having upset the tifosi
by demoting both Ferraris, another few laps could have presented the chance to take a maiden victory, with Lewis Hamilton having to respond to the Mexican's pace in the closing stages before securing the win.
By Singapore, Perez was confirmed as on the move for 2013, but it wasn't to Ferrari as many had expected, following comments from president Luca di Montezemolo that he didn't consider the second-year driver mature enough to drive for the Scuderia at that point in his career.
McLaren didn't have the same qualms and, with Ferrari prevaricating over Felipe Massa's replacement, wasted little time in spiriting the Mexican away as replacement for the Mercedes-bound Hamilton. Ironically, having signed, Perez's season went into something of a tailspin, as if he was trying to hard to justify the move, and he failed to add to his tally over the last six races, just holding onto a top ten spot in the standings.
Nevertheless, he is already making positive noises about next season, insisting that he has a legitimate chance of fighting for the title having joined a 'top team'.
Top 10 F1 Driver of the Year 2012 results so far:
9. Felipe Massa
10. Kamui Kobayashi