Well, McLaren has significant outside money from middle eastern investors. They are the 4th or 5th highest budgeted team in the field. In the long run $$$ = speed. They will be back. If the budget cap comes in (which I understand is still the case), then Mercedes/Ferrari/Red Bull will loose their budget advantage. We shall see how good the engineering and team management is with everyone having the same budget. I had also kind of felt that Hulkenburg had reached his "natural level" but suddenly saw him pick up the pace once he went to Renault. He has managed to consistently outqualify Sainz, who was not that far off from Verstappen when they were teammates. It has renewed my faith in the Hulk. Suspect he will not make it to a top team, but I can think of two Finnish drivers in the top teams that he is at least as good as now. Perez has always belonged with a top team and was in one (McLaren) for a year. He apparently is a complete pain to work with, so much so that McLaren replaced him with Magnussen, which was a step down. Perez has consistently outperformed his teammates, many who were quite good (Kobayashi, Hulkenburg, Ocon). Jenson Button is the only team mate that had a better season than him, and that was for the year at McLaren that did not work out. I don't think he has reached his "natural level." Put him in a top team, in the right environment, and with the right personality mix (Perez is still kind of a jerk), and I think he would be winning races. The real problem with F1 is that there are only three competitive teams and this has been the case for most of six seasons (no other team but those three has even won a race since McLaren did in 2012 and Lotus [now Renault] won the first race of 2013). This results in lot of deserving talent never having a chance at driving a winning car, because there are only six winning seats available and sometimes some of these seats are reserved for #2 drivers. Formula One has really been a competitive failure for the last six years. It is embarrassing how lop-sided the competition has been.