Perez: Stroll closer to me on race pace than past F1 team-mates

Sergio Perez says new Racing Point team-mate Lance Stroll is already closer to him on race pace than any of his previous Formula 1 team-mates, which have included Esteban Ocon and Nico Hulkenberg

Stroll enjoyed a strong debut for his new team in the Australian Grand Prix, recovering from being knocked out in Q1 to score two points for ninth place, while Perez made Q3 but slipped to 13th in the race.

Stroll showed stronger pace than Perez after the pitstops and Perez, who has shown himself to be particularly masterful at managing F1's delicate Pirelli tyres over race distances for several seasons now, said he has been surprised by Stroll's immediate strength in this area compared to his previous team-mates.

"In a way Esteban and Nico were quite a similar approach and they always seemed to struggle a lot with race pace," Perez said.

"But with Lance, his race pace is, from all the team-mates, the closest to mine.

"He's already, on Sundays, quite good. I was quite surprised because going for a long run I seemed to find it a bit easier with my previous team-mates, but it's not the case now. He has a good understanding for Sundays.

"It's good, it's what you need to score points, especially with this tight midfield."

Perez reckons the impression Stroll has made on him so far highlights how difficult it is to judge the performance of a driver in a difficult car, following Stroll's mixed first two seasons in F1 with Williams.

"The surprise was already when we met Lance to see the speed - it just proves that it's so hard to judge someone," Perez added.

"It's so much related to your car performance in F1.

"He has the speed, the talent. He works hard. I think he's going to be constantly scoring points, which is great for the team.

"To finish fourth in the constructors you need both cars to score points every weekend.

"He got the maximum out of the car, together with the team and strategy [in Australia]. It's what we need from now to Abu Dhabi."

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