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McLaren defends Perez's driving as 'what F1's about'

ESPN Staff
June 5, 2013 « McLaren making 'small steps' to front - Michael | New Pirelli tyres will be 'interesting to run' - Michael »
Sergio Perez was branded as "stupid" by Kimi Raikkonen for his driving in Monaco © Getty Images

McLaren sporting director Sam Michael has defended Sergio Perez's driving in the Monaco Grand Prix following criticism from fellow drivers.

Kimi Raikkonen was the most outspoken about Perez after the pair collided at the Nouvelle Chicane, with Raikkonen saying "maybe someone should punch him in the face" to curb his driving. Fernando Alonso was also unhappy after yielding to Perez at the same corner, but Michael told a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in that what Perez had done was nothing new and that he'd just delivered an aggressive performance.

"Ultimately he's a racing driver and he's just racing," Michael said. "All the moves that he did are all moves that have been done by all of those drivers at various points in their careers; some recently and some long ago. The overtaking opportunities that are available at the chicane at Monaco are ones that have been used for a long time before Checo Perez was even born, so for him to apply that as something new is not the case, and ultimately he's racing for his position. He's establishing himself and the races that he's doing all those other drivers have done themselves; that's Formula One. I think it was obviously hard racing but that's what F1's meant to be about."

Asked where Michael feels Perez's strengths are, he replied that Perez has no obvious weaknesses and that the team was happy with him as long as he continues to improve.

"He's pretty good on [consistency and feedback], especially for a 23-year-old. His team-mate has got ten years more experience than he does and he's a world champion so he's a hard guy to match and Checo's doing well against him. He's a talented driver, the way he's racing at the moment I support what he's doing, we're fully behind Checo as long as he keeps developing.

"He definitely went through a transition in the last two or three races and he's been able to mix it on pace with his team-mate, which is good. As long as he keeps going in that direction that's what matters to us. Technically he knows what he wants from the car and he's quite expressive about that with the engineers, and that's good for the level of experience that he's got."