Pérez's Resilience Shines in Strategic F1 Triumphs

Pérez’s Resilience Shines in Strategic F1 Triumphs


Bernadette Collins praises Sergio Pérez for his resilience and strategic prowess in Formula 1, despite challenging team dynamics.

Bernadette Collins, the former strategist for Force India and Aston Martin F1, regrets that Sergio Pérez’s rating suffers compared to Max Verstappen. She reveals that the Mexican was one of the drivers she loved working with, even though he’s behind Verstappen, or he wasn’t as good on the team as Sebastian Vettel.

Pérez's Resilience Shines in Strategic F1 Triumphs

“His reputation has taken a hit,” Collins stated on the Beyond the Grid podcast. “And I think early 2023, he was very strong and I was surprised to see how strong he was against Max.”

“I definitely have a soft spot for Checo, because Checo has been for many years the person scoring points for the team by doing things like the strategy at the 2015 Russian GP, doing what was asked of him.”

“He was very easy to work with in terms of post-analysis. He was very easy to work with if you had a bad qualifying because he would make up for it and was good in the race. He’s not the same driver as Max. Max is a much stronger driver. He probably isn’t the strategist that Sebastian was.”

Pérez's Resilience Shines in Strategic F1 Triumphs

“But he was very good at managing tires and he worked very well with his former engineer, Tim, to improve his qualifications. At one point, he was very bad in qualifying, which was really his weak point, and so he worked to improve it.”

“I would say that Sebastian is probably the best driver I’ve worked with, but Checo, in this team, with the pit wall group we had, which isn’t very different today, did a lot of good things with that car.”

Pérez has “very strong emotional resilience.”

Collins remembers Pérez as a mentally very solid driver. During weekends when he failed his qualifying, he always immediately sought how to leverage his racecraft to recover positions.

“It was incredible at the time. There was at least one occasion where there was a bad qualifying for one reason or another. I would always arrive at the office a bit disheartened, thinking, ‘this is not what we expected, we wanted much more, the race is going to be tough.'”

Pérez's Resilience Shines in Strategic F1 Triumphs

“And very often, Checo was already there thinking, ‘what are we going to do during the race? We are starting from 18th place.’ I thought, ‘I haven’t even overcome the negativity yet, and you’re already asking how we are going to solve the problem.'”

“It’s obvious that we weren’t simulating a start from 18th place. I always felt that he had very strong emotional resilience, especially with his family around him. Obviously, it’s very different when you are the top scoring driver. It’s a very different situation from that at Red Bull.”

The genesis of the victory at Sakhir in 2020

Bernie Collins’ victory in F1 was Pérez’s first, at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix. Held on Bahrain’s alternate layout, this race posed different challenges, with a new track, less degradation, and a collision for the Mexican on the first lap, sending him to the back of the grid.

“It was an interesting race because we had done Bahrain the week before. The garages hadn’t moved, the pit walls hadn’t moved, our hotel hadn’t changed, all these things hadn’t changed.”

“But the track was very different. The pit straight and the first turn were the same, but the track was very different. The first weekend, degradation was high, the second week, it was low.”

“The first weekend, it was very easy to overtake because of the high degradation, which was not the case the second weekend. The first weekend was marked by multiple stops, the second one not. Everyone needs to understand that this race was very different, it was no longer a normal Bahrain GP.”

“We had to start with soft tires. That was the rule at the time, because we had qualified very well. But we were always determining which tire we would use if we had the choice.”

“We knew that the soft was not the fastest tire, the medium was the fastest tire. We knew that a one-stop strategy with medium/hard would be much faster than the soft/hard tires we were on. We knew all this before starting the race.”

An optimal strategy thanks to the race events

The team decided to take advantage of the fact that Pérez was already last to optimize the strategy: “On the first lap, when Checo went off track, everyone was trying to find out if the car was damaged, if we needed to pit, what we should do, and when we should do it.”

“Actually, the data from the car was good. We didn’t need to make a pit stop, but we chose to pit to switch to the medium tires, because we knew that was the fastest strategy.”

“Chris, Checo’s engineer at the time, turned to me and asked if I was really sure, as it was the easiest decision I’ve ever had to make on the pit wall. I was completely sure that it was the right thing to do.”

“We knew that the degradation of the soft tire would mean it was not the fastest tire. We were last and there was a safety car, so we had nothing to lose by making this decision.”

“I think there was very little time to get Checo’s total buy-in. We always determine what our backup tire would be if we needed to make a pit stop. So if we had to stop, we knew it would be a medium tire, that was already decided.”

“The only decision then was to not stop in the pits. We didn’t need a new front wing, we didn’t need any of those things. It was always 100% the right thing to do. The car was fast and Checho was fast.”

“So it’s not only due to this strategic decision, but it would have been much more difficult without this strategic decision. And the next strategic decision was, during the last safety car, to not pit when many others did.”

Pérez's Resilience Shines in Strategic F1 Triumphs

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