The last time Sergio “Checo” Perez saw the steps of the podium was in the Miami Grand Prix that took place in May. After that result, it looked like his luck was beginning to take a turn downhill. The following race was the infamous Monaco Grand Prix, in which Perez was the reigning winner. It was almost expected that the “King of the Streets” would once again claim victory in that race, but fate had different plans. During qualifying that weekend, Perez lost control of the car and did not make it past the first qualifying session. The accident placed him at the 20th spot on the grid for that race. Hope was still there for a potential race win because everyone knows Perez has won from last place like he did in the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix when he was still racing for BWT Racing Point.
Courtesy of Euro.eseuro.com
On the Sunday of the Monaco Grand Prix, Perez knew he had to do the impossible, which was to score points. The circuit is already a tough one to compete in with little to no room for overtakes. That weekend also called for a 20 percent chance of rain, which by now we know how difficult it can be to race in the rain. The odds were starting to favor Perez seeing as by lap eight he had already managed to be in 18th place. As the race continued, Perez managed to climb up two places and ultimately finish the race in 16th place. Although it was better than finishing last, he was not able to acquire any points for the team that weekend. Up next, the following race was the Spanish Grand Prix.
The weekend of the Spanish Grand Prix was a bit of deja vu for the Mexican driver. There were less than two minutes in the second qualifying session when Perez lost control on turn five of the track. The accident caused him to qualify in 11th place, missing out on the third qualifying session by a few seconds. The actual race however, went better for Perez than the weekend before. He was able to finish the race in fourth place and earn points for that team that weekend. Although it was not a podium finish, things were starting to look up for the Red Bull driver.
Two weeks later was the Canadian Grand Prix and the team seemed hopeful for the weekend seeing the improvement in results from the past race. All hope seemed to disappear once qualifying came around once again. Perez had managed to miss out on the third qualifying session for the third race weekend in a row. The lack of consistency in qualifying sessions began to spark rumors of Perez’s Red Bull seat for the future. The session put Checo in 12th place for the race on Sunday. The weekend was the same as the last. Due to grit and determination, Perez had climbed his way to sixth place and was once again able to score points for the team. However, he was now on the path of redemption to prove that he deserved that Red Bull despite the accusations.
The Austrian Grand Prix was in Sprint format that weekend. This would be that the qualifying session that Friday would determine the grid for Sunday, and the sprint shootout on Saturday would determine the grid for the sprint that same day. The Austrian Grand Prix was a chaotic one to say the least. There were many laps that had been deleted during the qualifying session for going over track limits, one of them being Perez’s. The deletion of the laps aided in Perez’s failure to make it to the third qualifying session. Meaning he would start the race in 15th place. However, he seemed to have gotten his old spark back when he qualified in second for the sprint in the sprint shootout. He managed to maintain the second place position and finished in second behind Max Verstappen in the sprint.
Courtesy of AP Photo/ Darko Bandic
While still on the high of winning placing second in the sprint, Perez now had to do the unimaginable and once again try to earn points from the back of the grid. As any athlete can imagine, it is hard to try and perform at your best when the world is looking at you through a magnifying glass. Many were already doubting his performance and in a way already hoping for the worst during this worse. According to ESPN.com, Former Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button said, "I don't think he is [in danger] for this year but at the end of the year who knows.” However, Perez was able to prove everyone who doubted him wrong. He managed to score a third place podium that weekend all the way from 15th place. His drive that weekend, just like the Sakhir Grand Prix showed many why RedBull wanted him in the first place.
Courtesy of Reuters
Many drivers suffer through ups and downs throughout the season, but it is the way that they bounce back that shows how good they really are. The season is not over yet, so it is too early to count out Perez and his ability to do an incredible drive from even the back of the grid. Who knows what the “King of the Streets” has in store for us as the season goes along.