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European Grand Prix 2016: Winners And Losers From Baku Race

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Dan Istitene/Getty Images

After registering his third podium finish in as many seasons at the recent Monaco GP, Sergio Perez made an emotional appeal to the paddock.

Instead of judging him on his miserable one-season stay at McLaren in 2013, the Mexican told Sky Sports' Matt Morlidge, F1 folk should focus on the progress he has made since joining Force India at the beginning of 2014.

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If they did, they would see a much improved, "more complete driver in all aspects" and someone who is "ready" for a second chance at a leading team.

Over the last 12 months in particular, Perez has offered frequent reminders of why he might be worth a punt, but front-running outfits—seemingly swayed by the memories of the McLaren year—remain reluctant to take that risk.

Perez gave the likes of Ferrari another reason to overlook him in the closing seconds of FP3 on Saturday morning, when he smacked the barrier on the exit of Turn 15, damaged the rear of his VJM09 and left his mechanics with less than two hours to repair his car for qualifying.

The true test of a driver's character and capabilities is how they recover after such confidence-shattering setbacks at crucial times. And, just like he rebuilt his career after the McLaren experience three years ago, Perez came back even stronger as the weekend progressed.

His best-ever qualifying result of second—achieved in part thanks to the red-flag stoppage in Q3—was impossible to celebrate without ruing the earlier incident that led to him dropping five places on the grid due to a gearbox change.

But Perez's performance in the race, when he made a strong start and withstood huge pressure from his McLaren predecessor, Lewis Hamilton, more than made up for his error the previous day.

His final-lap pass on Kimi Raikkonen for third place at Turn 1—a move he didn't even need to make due to the Finn's five-second time penalty—felt symbolic as he joined the other Ferrari driver on the podium.

With his sins now forgiven, Perez would make a fine No. 2 alongside Sebastian Vettel in 2017.


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Source : http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2646877-european-grand-prix-2016-winners-and-losers-from-baku-race

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