If you were watching the Malaysian Grand Prix early Sunday morning, you may have picked up on something that seemed a little fishy. Sergio Perez, who's only in his second year on the Formula One grid having debuted with Sauber just last season, was way up in second place, ahead of proven race winners and World Champions. That was surprising enough, but what raised some eyebrows is what happened when he closed the gap in front of him to Fernando Alonso, who was leading the race in the Ferrari F2012.
According to Autosport, after impressively whittling down the gap Alonso had opened up behind him, Perez (pictured above in the parc ferme with Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali) received a radio message from Sauber strategists advising him to be careful. Shortly thereafter, Perez went wide off the track and lost Alonso. The young Mexican pilot still finished second – an unprecedentedly strong finish for Sauber – but many wondered if the message wasn't a code passed on from Ferrari, which supplies Sauber's engines.
Of course, Sauber, for its part, is denying the rumors, but it wouldn't be the first time in F1 that a leading team had told a midfield or back-marker team to which it supplied engines to reel in one of its drivers in the interest of preserving the front-runner's position. We'll probably never know the truth, but one thing's for sure: Perez is a rising talent in Formula One, and Alonso had better get used to watching out for him.