Sergio Perez’s second place at Monza was the standout drive of the 2012 season so far according to Niki Lauda, who honoured the Mexican driver by taking off his famous red cap before interviewing Perez on the podium last Sunday.
“Perez drove like a god,” the Austrian told Swiss newspaper Blick. “Unemotionally and without error. No driver has impressed me more this season at a grand prix.”
Lauda will not, however, be drawn into speculation 22-year-old Perez’s next move is to become Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari teammate in 2013. And the latest reports suggest Perez might also be a candidate to succeed Lewis Hamilton at McLaren.
“Clearly Perez has the potential for bigger things,” said 63-year-old Lauda, “but that doesn’t mean I’m going to start commenting on every internet rumour.”
Lauda is just as impressed with Perez’s current team, Sauber. Asked what is so good about the C31, he explained: “A simple design. Every team could follow the example of Swiss quality,” Lauda smiled.
“And with Monisha Kaltenborn at the helm, she has everything under her control, so I take off my cap to her as well.”
Indeed, chief executive Kaltenborn thinks the Hinwil based team’s next step is right to the top of the podium.
“It is difficult to be sure that we will win, because you need so much to come together to finish a race in first place, but I think we are close,” she is quoted by Brazil’s Totalrace. “If we can do a race completely without mistakes, I am sure that it can happen.”