Can Sergio Perez Reconquer His ‘King of the Streets’ Crown at the Las Vegas Grand Prix?
Sergio Perez had a disastrous home race in Mexico after he crashed out on lap one. Off the race start, it seemed as if Checo would take the lead, but his over-eagerness resulted in a heart-crushing DNF. The Mexican then looked forward to redemption at the Brazilian GP but was compromised in qualifying by Oscar Piastri. He then came within meters of getting on the podium at the Brazilian GP.
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Sergio Perez started P9 and progressed throughout the race, making it up to P4. However, cracking the wild old fox Fernando Alonso for P3 turned out to be an entertaining challenge. Nonetheless, Checo drove a brilliant race in Brazil but was overshadowed by Alonso snatching P3 away from him on the last lap. However, with Las Vegas coming up thick and fast, will Checo be able to turn his fortunes around and get the King of the Streets title back?
But many might be wondering, how did Perez get the nickname ‘King of the Streets’ in the first place? Let’s have a look at how he did it.
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How did Sergio Perez earn the title – ‘The King Of Streets’?
Street Circuits in F1 are not everyone’s cup of tea. Unlike the conventional circuits, the barriers stare the driver in the face as they make their way around. Extreme precision is required, with a small mistake being punished heavily. Also, the tarmac of a street is not the same as a conventional track, so the grip is very limited. These are the types of conditions where Sergio Perez comes out on top.
The Mexican is known for his controlled and gentle application of power. He also has a conservative approach while loading up the car into a corner that’s beneficial for racing the street circuits. Over his career in F1, 5 out of Checo’s 6 wins have come at a street circuit. All 5 of his wins with Red Bull have come on the streets, including the 2 wins this year. That’s 83% of his wins.
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The percentage of podiums at street circuits isn’t as dramatic, but 10 of Perez’s 34 podiums have come on a Street Track. This year itself, Perez has beaten Max Verstappen at the Azerbaijan GP on pure pace. The prowess of Checo on the street circuits is what earned him the nickname, ‘King of the Street.’ But if he’s this good at Street circuit, what happened to him at the other street tracks this year?
Checo’s mid-season downfall with Red Bull that invalidated his crown
While it looked like Sergio Perez would pose as a title challenger to Max Verstappen after the first 4 races, it became clear why the Dutchman is the No.1 driver for the Red Bull team. It was the Miami GP that was the start of the downfall for Sergio Perez. The Mexican took the pole at Miami, which is a street circuit, as Max Verstappen could not set a time in Q3 because of Charles Leclerc’s crash.
Perez was the favorite to win the race, but his blazing teammate, who started P9, punched his way up the field and the race over 5 seconds ahead of him. Checo had no answer for Verstappen’s pace at the Miami GP. It is believed that Perez put himself under a lot of pressure for challenging Verstappen for the title and not living up to it only made it worse.
The Monaco GP was the race after the Miami GP as Imola was canceled due to floods. Perez won the 2022 Monaco GP and was once again the favorite to win. However, he crashed in qualifying and wasn’t able to climb up the field and finished a sorry P16. A truly miserable day for Checo that he would like to forget. This was then followed by a run of bad qualifying where Perez was unable to get into the Q3 for multiple races.
After a mediocre mid-season considering the pace that the Red Bull RB19 has, Singapore presented another opportunity for Perez to get his tarnished Street crown restored. However, Red Bull’s package for the Singapore GP was horrible as both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez struggled for the whole weekend. The Mexican driver only managed a P8 finish. The tarnished title wasn’t restored and Sergio Perez’s hype around the street circuit faded away. But will Checo be able to get his title back at the upcoming street race in Las Vegas?
Can Sergio Perez reclaim his title on the streets of Las Vegas?
The Las Vegas Grand Prix is on the horizon. F1 is going back to Sin City for the first time in over 4 decades with a new track in place. The Las Vegas Strip Street Circuit is a high-speed circuit dominated by long straights. The closest comparison to this track is the Sakhir Grand Prix, which was held at the tweaked Bahrain GP circuit.
Surprisingly, it was Sergio Perez who won the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix in a spectacular fashion. He was taken out by Albon on Lap 1 but could continue and was last at the end of Lap 1. Checo must be hoping for the Las Vegas circuit to bring him fortune like it did back at the Sakhir Grand Prix. However, one key difference would be the fact that the Las Vegas GP will take part in freezing conditions, whereas Sakhir was scorching hot.
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There are many unknowns going into the race this weekend as it’s a new track for all the teams. From all the simulations, it seems like a track that would suit Red Bull’s rocketship of an RB19. However, the colder temperatures will require drivers to go for multiple warm laps before the tires are in the optimal operating window. Checo, who’s the tire whisperer, might find it even more difficult compared to the others out there.
Watch this Story: How is Sergio Perez So Good at Street Tracks in F1?
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Keeping the external factors aside and based on Checo’s ability itself and his recent form and pace [recovery drive in Brazil and potential pace at Mexico], Las Vegas will suit Sergio Perez. And if everything goes well, he very well might win the Las Vegas GP. However, Checo’s dominant teammate stands in his way of claiming the ‘King of the Streets’ title back.
“The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of EssentiallySports.”