Did McLaren Jump the Gun with Pérez?


No passing through my dirty air please
Now as one of the top names in the sport was leaving their team I can completely understand why Mclaren would want to announce on the same day he was leaving that they had signed a replacement and for it to be someone who'd been making the headlines in F1. Image is everything with the sponsors and a 'taking it in our stride' attitude is the best way to handle it. However now a certain amount of time has passed and the dust has settled might we view that Mclaren should have waited a little bit and they may have backed the wrong horse. It certainly seems to me that a much stronger candidate than Perez has emerged in the second half of the season. I am of course talking about Nico Hulkenberg.

Nico Hulkenberg may have started the season a little slow but as the second half of the season has progressed he has suddenly come to the fore and whilst he's not been grabbing the headlines like Perez in the Sauber he's certainly been punching above his weight. There is no question that Force India is not as quick as it was last year and you could arguably say its the 8th quickest car on the grid. In reality pace wise its probably pretty level with the Merc, Sauber and Williams with the driver making the difference on who comes out on top - and in the last few races the difference has certainly been Hulkenberg. Whilst he's had a few dips in race Hulkenberg has pretty much been top ten since Valencia. He scored a 5th place in Valencia, a 4th at Spa and a 6th at Korea - lets not forget but for last lap car problems he'd have been 5th at Singapore as well. Top 6 for any driver not in a Red Bull, Ferrari, Mclaren or called Kimi is punching way above where they should be so a potential 4 times in the last 10 races really is showing some skill. Sergio Perez has scored 2 top six finishes in the last 9 with a very impressive 2nd place so you might argue he's up there with him but Perez falls down big time with consistancy. Perez has 6 points finishes out of 17 races this season whilst Hulkenberg has 9. When you think about how much pace that Sauber has had at times and how poor the Force India was at the start of the season thats a massive gap and as the season draws to a close Hulkenberg is scoring consistant mid top ten finishes whilst Perez is doing his best to destroy his rep by driving like a loon.

So lets look at the "upcoming" group now shal we? Grosjean is being declared unsafe, Maldonado either wins or crashes(usually crashes), Rosberg has gone to sleep, Kobi is being labelled as having a poor season and Di Resta is being put in the shade by his team-mate. That leaves Perez and Hulkenberg as the two viable candidates and when Mclaren made their decision Perez's headlining podiums had put him at the top of the pile but should they have looked deeper than that? Ok Nico's first season in in F1 didn't light any fires but he did score 22 points in a Cosworth powered car and there was always that pole in Brazil. But surely Mclaren should have looked further back than that. Perez doesn't have a bad junior history but its a bit like this GP season has been, moments of glory followed by slumps of dissapointment. He had 2 seasons in GP2 finishing 12th and 2nd in the championship and winining 5 races. He was 4th in British Formula 3 and the only championship he has ever won is the British Formula Class. Whilst he is 3 years younger his junior career can not match that of the Hulk. Hulkenber won Formula BMW ADAC at the first time of asking, He won A1 Grand Prix at the first time of asking, He won the Formula 3 Euro Series and he won GP2 in his first season with 5 wins. Basically Hulkenberg has won ther majority of the s entered by consistantly scoring points in all of them. He's also know for his methodical approabe honest he kind of has Mclaren written all over him. Maybe he had a little false start in his F1 career but I think we can see he has now begun to realise some of that potential, a far greater potential than Perez.

I'm not writing this article to knock Sergio Perez, I'm actually a fan and I hope he does well at Mclaren. I'm just inclined to think that he is currently in a purple patch and that Mclaren have been distracted by this and the media headlines into missing out on the real prize. Hulkenberg is now being courted by Ferrari for 2014 in case they don't get Vettel, whether he'll find success in that environment I don’t know but I think he’d have been rather suited to the Mclaren team.

What do you guys think? Reckon Mclaren should have waited for the dust to settle and thought harder about brining in their replacement? Think I’m right about Hulkenberg? Or reckon there is someone else out there who would have been better to swoop for?
I said it at the time but I believe it was simply a case of getting whoever was available.

Although Whitmarsh was lying when he said there was no "plan B", I suspect they never really expected Hamilton to leave and as such, their options were extremely limited and they panicked.
I just think they made a mistake not waiting to see the 6 Grand Prixs remaining before making a decision. No one was going to sign for anyone whilst a Mclaren seat was going and that way they'd have got to see the full picture.

Like I said if he carries his current form to the end of the season then surely putting Hulkenberg in the seat would have been a no brainer.

Seems like they were more concerned in showing the world they had it all under control and that Hamilton leavinng was all in their plans.
I think the reason that everybody had Perez fever was that he just seemed like such a perfect fit for Ferrari with Massa's early struggles, and everyone was salivating at the prospect of someone actually challenging Fernando.

It's possible that Ferrari saw something they did not like when Perez has had the opportunity to test for them. Maybe they have been quite shrewd by not throwing him into their car.

I think you're spot on about McLaren needing something to point to and say, look, we've got this new shiny toy to replace the beaten and bruised one that already found a new welcoming home. In retrospect, it reeks of overcompensation.
Whilst I think Hulkenberg would have been a better driver for McLaren, I don't think they rushed and chose Perez, it just seems to be a business decision. Commercially, Hamilton's departure leaves a huge hole at McLaren and while Perez may not be able to immediately able to fill that gap, no other available driver comes close to bringing the commercial potential that Perez does. Perez opens up opportunities in South and North America, not to mention his connection to the world's richest man Carlos Slim. Potential is a powerful tool and Perez brings that both on and off the track.
I loved Hulkenberg at Williams in 2010 and like him even more now. He's a very skilled driver that still has a lot to learn, but I think he has the biggest upside of any young driver currently on the grid, and is also the most mature. He has a bright future
I think McLaren are fine. Sure, Perez has had a couple of rash moments since signing but it's better that he gets the nerves out of his system now I think and I don't think he is wholly to blame for his misfortune. He is going to be a good fit with Jenson I think and that is also going to be important.

It is also worth noting that it was Sauber that placed Perez into the position to have the accidents. He had already passed Lewis once and poor pit strategy meant he had to do it again. Then in India he was called in for a needless stop and emerged having to make up ground, passed a few people on new tyres, getting a puncture in the process and breaking the car on the way back.

Yep, Hulkenberg has done a fine job too, but I don't think you can ignore Perez' special performances in Malaysia and Monza quite so quickly. :)
I can't blame Sauber for Perez out-braking himself into the gravel in Japan, whatever the circumstances.

I have no idea whether McLaren have made the right decision or not. only time will tell. I will agree with the premise of the post, though, and say that I do think it seemed to all happen rather too quickly.I do think that they jumped the gun and I do think they should have waited. I guess they didn't want to be seen to be standing around after their loss saying "Now what?"
I've always been a fan of Hulkenberg and Perez, but I can't remember who it was that said that Perez's most consistent run of points is 2 races, but Hulkenberg would have been the better option for Mclaren.
When I heard Hamilton was leaving, only three candidates came into my mind.
Di Resta

Raikkonen had an option to extend his contract with Lotus which looked likely.

And between the two Force India drivers, I thought Hulkenberg was the more impressive driver out of the two. Let's not forget that he had a year out and was racing with Bridgestone tyres with no KERS or DRS.

Di Resta looked as if he was Mercedes bound to replace Rosberg, but seems quite quiet this season.

I was surprised that they went for Perez and not Hulkenberg, compare all their seasons, even their first F1 seasons, Hulkenberg comes out on top. He also seems more mature, consistent and doesn't seem to get caught up in incidents. His qualifying is good, as is his race pace, out of all the midfield runners, he to me has stood out.

The Force India car is not great, while the Sauber seems to be the best midfield car behind the top 4.

Perez on the other hand, seems quite reckless at times, hot-headed, inconsistent, and not a great qualifier. You could also add that his podiums have came from unusual circumstances where the compared to those in the top 10 has worked better.

There are rumours that Vodafone are leaving McLaren, maybe Telmex will replace them, this is just an opinion than a fact.

But I think Perez needed another season, seems too rough. However, he may come up with the goods next year and unleash.
I have to say I agree with RasputinLives 100%. I think Hulkenberg would have been the better prospect- Perez only seems to dazzle when he's on a different tyre strategy to everyone else, and that's usually because he made a Horlicks of qualifying. The Hulk, on the other hand, is beginning to make a habit of qualifying well, and then making a race strategy work through clever driving and good overtaking- something that the much-vaunted di Resta seems to be struggling to do these days...
McLaren have said that they look forward to moulding Perez in to a McLaren driver, he's done his apprenticeship in a lower team, now time to move on up. He has driven with the occasional spark that must have made the board notice as I don't think it was as much of a kneejerk reaction to Lewis' departure as some would have you think.

Hulkenberg whilst has had some solid results still hasn't really impressed me, he's only 5 points ahead of his team mate which given the circumstances isn't that great.

tl:dr - No they didn't, but I'll be fine if proven wrong this time next year.
I have to agree with RasputinLives I do think Mclaren have jumped the gun a bit but then Sergio had become the flavour of the month with a podium in Monza beating Alonso and the noises were to get him to Ferrari . Obviously they were stalling not to upset Alonso's ego and did not want to put Sergio at Ferrari

Mclaren thought here is a chance to steal and nabbed him at the time. Since then Sergio I think has let it go to his head trying to prove he is top driver and seems to be prepared to do some ridiculous moves with very little chance of succeeding or very high risk
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