The success Red Bull is enjoying over the past three seasons can be attributed to multiple things. Max Verstappen and the engineers will likely get most of the credit for the fantastic work they’ve put in. Unfortunately, Sergio Perez won’t likely get the plaudits he deserves for his contributions.
The Mexican driver has been one of the most underrated performers in Formula 1 over the past decade. He’s spent years driving for midfield teams, but it’s only with his move to Red Bull that he finally got the opportunity a driver of his caliber needs.
Thankfully, he finally has a long-standing relationship with an outstanding team and a strong car that will help him win more races. His teammate and rival is now the only thing standing in the way of his pursuit of F1 immortality.
The Formula 1 fans of OKBET should expect to hear more of Checo in the near future. This is why this piece will examine his career and how he reached this point.
A Humble Start Across the Atlantic
Sergio Perez was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, on January 26, 1990. It was natural for Checo to be drawn to racing as the country has a long history with Formula 1. The Mexican Grand Prix started in 1963 and has been revived multiple times due to its popularity.
The racing bug naturally got into the Perez family as one of his older brothers is a retired stock car driver. It didn’t take long for Checo to get into racing, kickstarting his karting career at six. It was apparent to people around him that he had the potential to become special after finishing his debut campaign in second place with four race wins.
His next karting seasons saw him put up impressive performances. He eventually won Master Kadets, Shifter 125cc, and became the youngest driver to win a race in the Shifter 80cc class.
It didn’t take long for Escuderia Telmex, one of Mexico’s auto racing teams, to notice his talents and offer him a sponsorship. The team opened the door for Checo to try his fortunes abroad.
A Daring Jump Across the Pond
It didn’t take long for Perez to realize he had a good shot of making the biggest stage in motorsport. He was 14 when he decided to take the plunge and try to drive his way into Formula 1.
It was Perez himself who revealed that the first few years of his European journey were some of the toughest moments of his life. He told The Athletic’s Luke Smith that homesickness was one of his biggest foes during those years. His poor English and German at the time didn’t help things.
However, he was able to survive in his first few years abroad. After two solid seasons for Team Rosberg in Formula BMW, he eventually jumped to Formula 3. One of his big highlights was his dominating performance in the British Formula 3 Championship, where he won two-thirds of his races.
Sergio Perez continued his superb form as he entered GP2, the feeder series to Formula 1. He kept his head down for the next couple of years before Sauber became impressed with him enough to offer him a seat at the pinnacle of motorsport racing.
The F1 Journey of Sergio Perez
Perez ended Mexico’s 30-year F1 driver drought when he lined up in the 2011 Australian Grand Prix for Sauber. Unfortunately, he couldn’t race despite placing 13th in the qualifiers due to his car’s illegal wing. He was able to start on the grid for the Malaysian Grand Prix, but electrical problems stopped him from finishing his race.
His first two races unknowingly became a premonition of what Perez’s career would be like until he joined Red Bull in 2021. He was a great driver, but something was always stopping him from reaching the peak of the sport.
When Lewis Hamilton departed McLaren to join Mercedes, Checo was the driver tapped to drive alongside Jenson Button. The Briton was surprised with how well the Mexican drove on certain tracks, but the team was on a downward turn since then. They struggled to fight for places, so Perez had to look for another team.
Sergio Perez joined Force India for the 2014 campaign and immediately shone with the team. He snagged their second-ever podium in Bahrain. He continued to be a driver to be reckoned with among the midfield teams, but no big team moved to acquire him.
By the time the 2019 season came, Force India had taken on the name Racing Point. This team became special for Perez as it was with them that he got his first Grand Prix win.
The 2020 Sekhir Grand Prix is the type of race you want to win if it’s your first-ever victory. It had every element of a movie: a come-from-behind win, pure driving skill, excellent tire management, and luck from various places.
Unfortunately, Perez was about to lose his seat after Lawrence Stroll bought Racing Point and gave his seat to Sebastian Vettel.
The Start of a Beautiful Partnership
Fans and pundits wanted Checo to stay in Formula 1 for his incredible driving, but Checo was ready to spend a year away from the sport if Red Bull decided to stick with Alex Albon.
Fortunately for him, Christian Horner decided to pair Verstappen with the more seasoned Perez for the 2021 season. This gave the Mexican, who showcased his class for much of his career, a chance to drive one of the best cars in Formula 1.
The 2021 season became a revelation for Perez. He finished fifth in his debut Red Bull race and started second at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the first time he ever got to start an F1 race at the front.
The rest of the season saw him provide excellent support for Verstappen as he won his first championship. He also experienced great success on the track, finishing first in Azerbaijan and placing third in France, Turkey, the USA, and Mexico.
The 2022 season became a continuation of 2021 for Red Bull, but Checo began winning more regularly. He became a fixture at podiums for much of the year, winning the Monaco and Singapore races.
It was clear to everyone that he’s become instrumental in their team’s dominance nowadays as a terrific driver and teammate. Save for their scuffle in Brazil, the relationship between the two has been harmonious.
Why Is Sergio Perez So Good At Driving?
One of the biggest reasons behind Perez’s success on the track is his aggressive driving. He isn’t afraid to take the race to anyone, whether facing an opponent or a teammate. His fearless driving style allowed him to get podiums with Force India/Racing Point and win races with Red Bull.
Another secret to Checo’s success is his tire management. He’s one of the few Formula 1 drivers who deeply understand how tires work. The Mexican driver understands when he needs to push the tempo and when to let off the gas to save his tires.
Finally, he doesn’t have an ego. The Red Bull cars are engineered with Verstappen’s driving at its core. The fact that he can get podiums on a car to which he has to adjust his driving style is a testament to his skill and team-first mentality. Throughout the past two seasons, he’s also shown how willing he is to take team orders to secure the win.
What’s Next for Sergio Perez?
Now that Perez has proven his quality as a driver, it will be interesting to see how the current season plays out. While it’s unlikely that he’ll win the 2023 season against Verstappen, he can definitely put up a fight.
After all, his career has been testimony to how his sheer driving skills compensate for any disadvantages his car may have. If there’s anyone who can stop Verstappen at this point, it’s Sergio Perez.
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