Sergio Perez says new Racing Point teammate Lance Stroll is closer to him on race pace than his previous Formula 1 teammates, including Esteban Ocon and Nico Hulkenberg.

Stroll turned in a strong drive on his grand prix debut for Racing Point to recover from 16th on the grid and finish ninth in Melbourne, scoring the team’s first points of the 2019 season in the process. 

Perez, who progressed into Q3 but fell out of the top ten and ultimately came home in 13th, admits he has been impressed by Stroll’s race pace, which he believes to be one of his strongest areas. 

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“In a way Esteban and Nico were quite a similar approach and they always seemed to struggle a lot with race pace but with Lance, his race pace is, from all the team-mates, the closest to mine in terms of race pace,” Perez said.

“In qualifying he can deliver too. He's already, on Sundays, quite good. I was quite surprised because going for a long run I seemed to find it a bit easier with my previous team-mates, but it's not the case now. He has a good understanding for Sundays. 

“It's good, it's what you need to score points, especially with this tight midfield.”

The Mexican said he had been initially taken by surprise by Stroll’s speed and feels it shows just how difficult it is to judge a driver’s performance when they find themselves in uncompetitive machinery, as Stroll did at Williams during his first two years in F1. 

“The surprise was already when we met Lance to see the speed he has - it proves it's so hard to judge someone purely, so much related to the performance of the car in F1,” Perez explained. 

“He has the speed, the talent. He works hard. I think he's going to be constantly scoring points, which is great for the team. 

“To finish fourth in the constructors you need both cars to score points every weekend. He got the maximum out of the car, together with the team and strategy [in Australia]. It's what we need from now to Abu Dhabi.”

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