Ever since it was confirmed that both Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez will be teammates at Sahara Force India, immediately it became one of the finest driver pairings of 2014 season. There was no doubt that this pair ranked highly along with the pair of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull for 2014 season.
Out of the two, it was widely expected that Hulkenberg will be the one to outperform Perez. Even though, Perez had done a season with McLaren, Hulkenberg’s consistency wherever he raced, gave him the edge over the Mexican. It was to be noted that till date, Perez has had three podium finishes with two different teams while Hulkenberg is still searching for his first podium finish.
Over the years though, both have matched each other rather interestingly in the championship tally. Hulkenberg started in 2010 with Williams, where he finished P14, while Perez made his debut for Sauber in 2011, where he finished P16. In 2012, both raced against each other for the first time as, Perez finished P10 and Hulkenberg racing for Sahara Force India finished P11. In 2013, Hulkenberg switched to Sauber and finished P10 while Perez switched to McLaren and finished just one position behind in the drivers standings. It has always been very close with these two drivers and they have continued the same way, racing in the same team.
The 2014 season
Coming to the 2014 season, Hulkenberg dominated Perez in the first half, with his streak of ten consecutive point finishes. Perhaps, the only shining moment for Perez during this streak, was his podium finish in Bahrain, which he richly deserved. It could be said that Perez had his share of misfortunes too, but what helped Hulkenberg was his consistency all throughout. It could be that Perez was only finding his feet in the new team and the advantage which Hulkenberg had, benefited him well.
Both drivers have had some strong races under their belt this season, which has put Sahara Force India in contention for P5 in the championship. It started with Hulkenberg’s string of P5 finishes, that in Malaysia, Bahrain, Monaco and Canada which gave the team, an early momentum. In this period, Perez’s Bahrain podium was icing on the cake. It could have been a lot better if Perez would have held on to second in Canada, but for that incident with Massa, deprived him of another podium, which could have helped the team in the P5 fight. Perez’s Singapore drive has to be mentioned as well, making up three positions in the last few laps to finish a respectable P7. And to add, he also notched up his as well the team’s third fastest lap in a race during the Austrian GP.
But ever since Hungary’s DNF, there has been a bit of a slide in Hulkenberg’s fine run while Perez has risen to the task in hand. Since then, Perez has finished every race in points under difficult circumstances and it included some good battles on-track. The qualifying head to head has a clear winner in Hulkenberg who has had qualified well over Perez in most of the races. Overall, both have been mighty close to each other in the time sheets. They are the only pair after Hamilton and Rosberg who are matching inch by inch, against each other, giving no room whatsoever.
Ever since Hungary’s DNF, there has been a bit of a slide in Hulkenberg’s fine run while Perez has risen to the task in hand
More to come
It will be interesting to see who shines in the last three races and who helps the team to win back the coveted P5 in the Constructors’ Championship. And with Hulkenberg having already secured his 2015 drive with the team, Perez would want to continue his good run to secure himself a seat in the team too. Hulkenberg started the season well and Perez is finishing on a high but both drivers all season long have impressed everyone with some good old gritty driving.
Head to Head battle score:
Qualifying- Hulkenberg- 11 VS Perez- 5
Race- Hulkenberg- 13 VS Perez – 11 (point finishes)
Points: Hulkenberg 76 vs Perez 47
by Darshan Chokhani