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.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 58 Comments
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        gtv4rudy
        • 2 Years Ago
        Ferrari haters will always be Ferrari haters no matter what the circumstances. People still remember how Schumacher was allowed to get a free pass from his team mates during those 5 Championships with Ferrari.
        marspeed8
        • 2 Years Ago
        Well said, when I heard the radio transmission, I had my doubts, but the way that we pushed wide in the corner that he did was clearly not done on purpose.
      MKIV
      • 2 Years Ago
      If it was, then it was extremely well choreographed. I watched the race and it looked like Sergio just drove too deep into the corner and the back end stepped out. Once he recovered, he went right back at Alonso again. No conspiracy here... Just a racing incident. IMO.
      Knightrider66
      • 2 Years Ago
      Get your info right, the exact words were " we need this position, standing water on corners ## and ##" Deffo a coded message
      George Lupică
      • 2 Years Ago
      He didn't slow down, he didn't avoid to overtake. He simply made a mistake as he was catching up Alonso. Being told by the manager to not risk too much may have had something to do with it but there was some tire wear to consider. Pushing that hard for so many laps does not come "free". It was a bit of bad luck, not conspiracy.
      thePeterN
      • 2 Years Ago
      While winning the race would have been a big boon for Perez, it probably wouldn't do too much for Sauber. I mean, with a 2nd place finish they launch themselves past the other back-markers in the constructor's chase and rankings when it comes to dividing up the pay-outs from the F1 agreement, but they probably won't be any higher in the ranks with a win instead. Of course if Perez would've attempted to take the lead, there's probably a 50/50 chance he would've wrecked (as any youngster might) and they would've lost all benefit.
      Pdexter
      • 2 Years Ago
      Oh noes, not even autoblog. I thought these rumors where crazy enough on the F1 forums.
      TexRob
      • 2 Years Ago
      I am a Ferrari hater, and am all for accusing them of shenanigans, but I really don't think that was a team order. I think you had a team, Sauber, who never sees a podium wanting their driver to see his first podium, and them their first one in a LONG time. I think they meant what they said, and Sergio tried to pass and overshot that turn. He could have easily just made the pass not happen, rather than going off track.
      Autoblogist
      • 2 Years Ago
      I doubt it, he kept charging after the slip-up and would've caught to Alonso after a few more laps. The message was quite literal. After Maldonado crash in Melbourne trying to catch Alonso, Sauber didn't want to throw away their best finish to date over being too aggressive. Of course the type of driving that Perez displayed is mostly done when a driver is in "the zone" so that radio message probably took him out of that for a second. If I was Perez, I'd at least stick with Sauber through the end of the season. They are getting better at a team and this year could develop into more podium finishes for them. He basically jump to Ferrari who has an inferior chassis , but more engineering experience. Alonso is making th F2012 look wasay better than it actually is.
      Laurence Hendrick
      • 2 Years Ago
      It was clear to me watching the race that he backed off after the radio call. Just like he is paid to do. His team directed him to save the second place (we need this). Then he dropped it in a turn, maybe from all the distraction of changing pace, which is not uncommon. With the money involved in F1 the days of ignoring team orders are over. Contracts probably state the consequences to the drivers and teams. F1 rewards $$$ for points, and Sauber needs points and $$$. Perez already has a future, and would not blow it over this one race win. Remember too, that with the rain delay and tire choices this one was a mixed up finish waiting to happen. Even having Alonso up there in front was a function of a wet track. Rain races are getting to be the only ones worth watching these days, instead of the parades we see when one of the front runners gets away and drones on for 58 laps. At least this was worth watching
        Lexusboy
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Laurence Hendrick
        I agree. But in the final dry stint neither Hamilton (who is a complete douche bag) or Webber were able to close in on Alonso & Perez.. With both the intermediates & full wets Alonso was quicker than the McLarens & Red Bulls. I guess this race just serves to remind everyone in the paddock who really is the best driver in F1.
      sloturbo
      • 2 Years Ago
      I think he was told (in code) if you want Massa's seat, don't pass Fernando.
      lorenzo
      • 2 Years Ago
      The biggest slip-up Perez made was the way he spoke in the post race interview. Sitting next to a world champ, and potential future team mate - bragging about how he could have caught and passed Alonso. Shows he is still really green. He needs the same speaking coach the McLaren boys use, they are always the best post-race interviewers. They both speak with humility, and respect.
        Autoblogist
        • 2 Years Ago
        @lorenzo
        Give me a f*cking break Alonso isn't God. Perez stated what everybody thought including Alonso. It no secret Ferrari's chassis is a dog this year and the lap times spoke for themselves. He didn't disrespect Alonso by saying that and he certainly wasn't alluding to himself being a better driver. Much like this article , your ears pay attention to too much gossip.
        Rob
        • 2 Years Ago
        @lorenzo
        Why is it bragging? If you were watching, you would have seen how the intervals kept getting shorter and shorter, (down to less than a half second) he was just honestly answering the question asked of him.
        lorenzo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @lorenzo
        Rob & Autoblogist - I watched the interview. I totally agree he was speaking the truth. I am no Alonso fan (Button & Kimi for me) - I am only saying he does not understand the politics of F1 & how to behave yet. If you are about to be considered for a team, you dont diss their win by saying you could have done better, even if you could. ESPECIALLY a team as proud as Ferrari, and also a proud potential team mate like Alonso. I think his behavior did him more of a dis-service in the eyes of Ferrari than helping them look at him in a positive light. I dont believe brutal honesty is the best policy in a situation like that. Dont lie, but dont say over and over you could have caught A. In my opinion, the main reason P was up on A rear at the end, was As tires were going off. Before that they were pretty equal. .....then there is also the whole Spaniard vs Mexican thing I wont even get into......
        Lexusboy
        • 2 Years Ago
        @lorenzo
        "They both speak with humility, and respect" my a$$. In 2007 Hamilton was the most arrogant bastard cause he thought he could beat Alonso & become World Champion in just his rookie year. Have you heard some of his radio messages during the races last year where he used to openly crticise his team for millions to hear? or the way he brushed aside Massa after their accident in Singapore last year? His PR guy has trained him well to hide his real emotions. Button is only a bit less arrogant than him.
        nismokid02
        • 2 Years Ago
        @lorenzo
        Disagree. If anything, F1 need's the opposite. The drivers today are too reserved and muffed. That's why I like guys like Kimi who are more blunt and straight foward.
      Junkyard Willie
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is the reason why I'm enjoying seeing Ferrari struggle in F1 this year.
    • Load More Comments