A fierce driver with obvious pace who has languished and shined in midfield teams all his career, the Mexican is on the verge of a top team and some strong results like he has done previously in his career will get him there, here is how he has made it to where he is now:
Born in the suburbs of Guadalajara, Mexico on 26th January 1990, Sergio Perez is the most successful Mexican F1 driver of all time. His path to the pinnacle of motorsport follows the cycle of most of the current F1 grid.
Perez began karting at the age of 6 and it didn't take long before he was noticed. By the turn of the millennium he had the support of Escuderia Telmex who have become major backers in his rise to the very top. Once he graduated from karting, he competed in the American national Skip Barber championship in a team run by his backers Telmex.
In 2005 he moved to Europe to catch F1 attention and began driving for team Rosberg in the Formula BMW series. He had an average opening season finishing 14th in the championship which he improved to 6th in his second season. He also became the third youngest driver to compete in the A1 GP series when he drove for Team Mexico in a single round of the 2006/2007. The talented Mexican moved to Formula 3 for 2007. Competing in the national class, he dominated by winning two-third of the races and a similar ratio of pole positions. 12 months later he graduated to the international class again driving for t-sport. He led the title briefly before dropping to 4th in his final year in the category.
With the rise to supremacy well and truly on, Perez entered the GP2 category. Driving for Campos in GP2 Asia, he scored victories in Sakhir and Losail, beating his teammate and fellow future F1 driver Vitaly Petrov. In the main GP2 series in an Arden run car, Perez finished 12th However, twelve months later, he showed the world he would make it as he finished 2nd behind Pastor Maldonado.
The goal was achieved in 2011 when thanks to funding from Telmex he secured a seat at Sauber, replacing experienced German Nick Heidfeld. He became the first Mexican in the sport since 1981 and only the 5th ever. In the off season, he signed a contract in Ferrari's driver academy and the Ferrari powered Sauber team had his services for the upcoming season. He scored his first points in Turkey with a 9th place finish (he finished 7th in Australia, however, both Saubers were disqualified for technical infringements). A heavy crash in Q3 at Monaco saw him miss two races, Monaco and Canada (at the latter, he was replaced by Pedro de la Rosa). On his return for the European Grand Prix, he finished 11th and the following weekend returned to the points with a career best 7th at Silverstone. After 14 points, he ended the season 16th and was retained along with team mate Kamui Kobayashi for 2012.
2012 was a historic year for Sergio where he finished a competitive eighth in the opener in Australia. He made his mark, however, at round two, Malaysia where he achieved his first podium with a second place. Had he not have made an error on the penultimate corner (turn 14) in the slippery wet/dry conditions, he would've won the grand prix. Many believe he should've won this race. He proved this wasn't a fluke with further strong finishes in Canada (3rd), Germany (6th) and Italy (2nd).
After Lewis Hamilton announced his move to Mercedes from McLaren for the 2013 season, a vacancy was created at a 'top team.' Perez's form in 2012 made him the first choice for McLaren to partner and push experienced Jenson Button.
However, an uncompetitive car made it difficult to improve on his 66 points and 10th place in the championship that he hauled from his previous season with Sauber. His controversially aggressive driving style caused teammate Button to label his fights with Perez as "dirty" and Kimi Raikkonen said he [Perez] should be "punched in the face". McLaren confirmed Kevin Magnussen would replace Perez for 2014 and the Mexican moved to Force India in an all new driver line up for the new season.
Teamed with highly rated Nico Hulkenberg, Perez began the season on decent terms as an 11th place finish resulted in a point as he was promoted one position due to the disqualification of Ricciardo. His first points for Force India in the bag he got his first DNS at the following race at Malaysia/
He quickly made amends with the team’s first podium since 2009, and his first since Italy 2012, in Bahrain where he shine under the glittering floodlights. His positive season did have his aggressive crash prone nature woven in, most notably at Canada where a crash from inside the top 5 with Felipe Massa's Williams at turn one. He was handed a five place grid drop for the following race in Austria. Despite this, he achieved both his and the team’s third fastest lap in history.
His performances led to a two year extension of his contract. This season’s highlight has been the fourth place qualifying in Belgium and the fact he is the only person to lead a race at the end of a sector who was not driving for a top 3 team (Mercedes, Ferrari or Williams.)
Despite all his success, Perez shows his loyalty to his Mexican heritage. His helmet never fails to show some resemblance to the national flag. His charity in Mexico shows his nice caring side and like all sportsmen, he dreams of making the top. But for Checo, it's certainly within reach.
by Matthew Gannon