PACKING A PUNCH
When Sergio Perez
made his debut with
Sauber at the 2011
Australian GP (coming
home seventh, then
disqualified for a rear
wing infraction), he was
the fifth Mexican to
start a points-paying F1
race. Esteban Gutierrez
made it six in 2013.
blazed a trail in 1961,
with brother Pedro
and Moises Solana
joining the club in ’ 63.
Pedro is the only
Mexican to win grands
prix – South Africa in
1967 and Belgium in
drove in F1 between
1977-’ 81, even
racing his own, not
great Rebaque HR100
(BELOW) in late ’ 79.
the new races in Austin and now Mexico.
I want the sport to become more popular
in America, where we have so many
Mexicans. And of course in Mexico,
where we have so much potential.
“Obviously I’m not the main element
in that, but I think my presence in F1
contributes a lot to it, and I would like
to do even more in the coming years.”
But it’s the here and now that is so
intriguing for Perez. Few drivers get a
second chance in F1 after failing to make
it at a big team, yet at Force India, the
27-year-old Guadalajaran has bounced
back from his McLaren knockdown and
rebuilt his reputation with a team that
relishes punching above its weight.
“I think we’ve come a long way since
the first race I did with the team to where
stepped up a weight with a move to
McLaren. It didn’t end well, the team opting
to replace him with Kevin Magnussen at the
end of the ’ 13 season. An announcement
made, somewhat ironically, in Austin, Texas.
Ironic, because Perez remained a
heavyweight in North America. Even after
he left McLaren and joined Force India in
2014, huge numbers of Mexican fans
would head to Texas for the United States
Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas. But
his profile reached another level with the
return of the Mexican Grand Prix in ’ 15.
With his face adorning billboards all over
his home country, Perez knows just how
important he is to F1’s future in the region.
“I think in the next couple of years I
can help it grow,” he says. “You can
already see how we’ve helped build up
Sergio Perez and brother Antonio
are talented soccer players, even
toying with the idea of turning pro.
SOCCER’S LOSS IS F1’S GAIN