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GP Week : Issue 184
21 GPWEEK.com // 21 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: OPINION sergio Perez has come in for a lot of criticism from his fellow drivers this year for his aggressive driving, criticism that has only intensified following the Monaco Grand Prix during which Perez made several bold moves at a track notorious for being difficult to overtake on. Arguably, the moves Perez pulled in Monaco left the defending driver with very little choice: “Let me past or risk an accident, I’m coming through regardless,” Perez seemed to be saying. Inevitably, that accident did happen, with the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen. Looking at the footage you can clearly see Kimi starting to close off Perez’s line from well before the McLaren got alongside the Lotus. Raikkonen says that in the run down to the chicane his line was in the middle of the road anyway which, given how narrow the streets of Monte Carlo are, would have left no space for Perez to come through. In the end, the accident hurt Raikkonen’s title prospects while it cost Perez the race. But does Perez really need to tone down his aggression or is it just a case of the big guy picking on the new kid? The contrasting reactions from two men who bore the brunt of Perez’s Monaco moves are telling. Raikkonen, who also had a run-in with Perez in China that damaged his nose, said someone should punch Perez in the face. Title rival Fernando Alonso on the other hand, who had to cut the chicane to avoid tangling with the charging Mexican and had to hand the place back to him as a result, said the 23-year-old’s driving reminded him of himself. “As for what Sergio did, I don’t have much to say, his approach reminds me of my own in 2008 and 2009, because when you are not fighting for the championship, you can take more risks, while for me today, it was important to finish the race and bring home as many points as possible.” Personally, I think Perez pulled off some stunning overtaking moves down into the chicane catching some of his far more experienced rivals off guard, most notably team-mate Jenson Button, and with every move that came off, Perez gained confidence and grew bolder. Yes, the move on Kimi was not on, he was driving into a disappearing gap, and in Canada a still upset Raikkonen spoke to journalists about how you can trust some drivers to be hard but fair while with others you just can’t tell. “It’s okay to be aggressive, but you have to have some idea behind an overtaking manoeuvre, even if you are aggressive, and not just have a hope, ‘He’s going to move over.’ You know certain guys will race hard and fair, but some guys for sure you know what to expect,” Raikkonen said. I’m not blaming Kimi here, but surely when you’re fighting for the title and you’ve got a quicker car behind you driven by a driver you know can be unpredictable around a circuit like Monaco where there is very little margin for error, surely then, you think about the bigger picture and avoid putting yourself at risk. Just like Alonso did, just like Raikkonen did the first time Perez attempted to pass him at the chicane. Apart from Raikkonen, we’ve also heard several of the top drivers like Button, Alonso and Webber talk about how they feel confident going wheel to wheel with each other because they know the other driver will give them room, just enough, but enough to avoid contact nonetheless. But what we should remember is that these guys are either world champions or have at some point been title contenders. They’ve also been racing together, battling wheel to wheel, for years, nearly a decade as a matter of fact and have all made their mistakes (remember Vettel losing control of his car at the Belgian Grand Prix in 2010 and ending Button’s race?). Perez, on the other hand, is young and is still learning. This is just the first year that he’s slugging it out with the Buttons and Webbers and Alonsos on a regular basis and with time and experience he will improve. He is also a driver under a tremendous amount of pressure to prove that he is as good as his world champion teammate and as good as his predecessor who arguably left Perez with extremely big shoes to fill. He knows he’s in a McLaren seat, perhaps slotted in before he was ready for it, and he wants to make the most of it, a task not made any easier by the fact that he was probably expecting to win races this year and is instead driving a car that is at best good for a fifth place finish. Now that he has the chance, he’s hungry to prove that he can take the fight to the top drivers of the day. So cut him some slack and let him race. OPINION ABHISHEK TAKLE Contributing Writer LEAVE SERGIO ALONE!