Mid-Season Review: Perez vs. Hulkenberg

Force India Monaco

Ahead of F1's return to action at Spa we're taking a look at how the drivers are faring against their team-mates. Next up, pacy midfielders Force India.

2014 has been good for Force India. It has brought the team its first podium in five years and their car looks every bit as fast as the McLaren. They are locked in a very tight battle with the Woking-based team for fifth in the standings, which would represent their best championship finish ever. There is pride at stake, too: both will want to avoid the embarrassing mantle of 'worst Mercedes-powered team'.

Sergio Perez: Highest start: 4th. Highest finish: 3rd

Perez is having an odd season. Sometimes he seems rehabilitated from his McLaren nightmare, others he justifies the British squad's decision to fire him. His drive to third in Bahrain was brilliant, but his collision with Massa in Canada was a significant and costly error. He continues to look overly punchy in wheel-to-wheel combat and that will cost him again this season, but on his day he can be superb.

But the stats are not good for the Mexican. He is well behind Hulkenberg in the standings - the German has a 40-point advantage - and is also being thumped in qualifying, with Nico currently 9-2 up on Saturday afternoons.

The podium means he can be happy with how things have gone thus far, but he'll need to improve further if he is to fully banish the McLaren nightmare.

Nico Hulkenberg: Highest start: 4th. Highest finish: 5th

Hulkenberg continues to be touted as a star of the future, but as the years tick by it becomes more and more unlikely that he will ever get his big break. He is no longer a youngster - he turns 27 this month - but still has no podium finish to his name.

Perez's third-place finish in Bahrain, with Nico trailing home fifth, must have stung the German badly. What's more, it adds fire to the rarely-mentioned perception of Hulkenberg as a very solid driver who lacks a killer instinct. For all Sergio's faults, there is no doubt he has that.

But Nico deserves great credit for his work-rate and consistency. He spends practice diligently preparing for the race with a fastidiousness that is perhaps unique even at the top of F1, and he recorded points in the first 10 races of 2014 before a DNF in Hungary.

Overall, Hulkenberg has been excellent again this season. However he's unlikely to be any nearer the front of the grid in 2015 - and that clock is ticking.

VERDICT: Hulkenberg. Sergio grabbed the headlines but much of the team's points and progress are down to Nico.