[F1 2019 VIDEO FEATURE] SERGIO PEREZ: MEXICAN HERO

Sergio Pérez heads to his home race ready to rock as the Mexico Grand Prix’s star driver, the 29-year-old the frenzied fan focus at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodríguez.

But, 2019 has been a tough season for the Mexican. 35 points his lowest haul since his rookie campaign in 2011.

… the RP19 car a disappointment, not Pérez, given the bullish talk from the team pre-season on its chances. The squad needing far more time to build back up under its new owners.

SOUNDBITE (English) SERGIO PÉREZ,
F1 DRIVER, RACING POINT F1:
“We are aiming for at least fourth this year. When you consider the level of competition that is in the [F1] midfield, with such big teams around, [including] big manufacturers, it’s not going to be easy. But this team has done it before. I will be very pleased if we can have a couple of podiums as well. And yeah, have a great season, and why not - our first victory together.”

And a first victory is what Pérez is banking on with a rejuvenated Racing Point, having signed a contract earlier in August this year that’ll take him through to the end of 2022.

It’s hard to believe this is Pérez’s ninth season in F1, the Mexican entering the sport on a wave of hype…and financial backing from billionaire Carlos Slim, one of the world’s richest men. 

Pérez moved into cars in 2004, before relocating to Germany alone aged 14 for Formula BMW ADAC. He secured the national British F3 title in his debut year, stepping up to GP2 - finishing second in 2010.

He made his F1 debut with Sauber the next year. The Mexican paired with Kamui Kobayashi, but giant killing performances set him apart…with three podiums in 2012, including second in Malaysia.

…stark highlights against just four other points finishes.

SOUNDBITE (English) SERGIO PÉREZ,
SAUBER, 2011-2012:
"We've been very unlucky in the last races. We were like, after Malaysia we didn't score any points, but then we do another good podium for the team and hopefully we can get back another result in the near future."

But an understandable switch to McLaren for 2013 halted his progress, the squad opting for revolution over evolution and losing out; its MP4-28 a real flop. Despite sky-high expectations pre-season.

SOUNDBITE (English) SERGIO PÉREZ,
McLAREN, 2013:
"Even the launch was so emotional, so special for me, that I’m really looking forward and I’m sure we will have a strong car - and we will be fighting for the championship, which is the target here. And to win it is the target. So I’m very motivated.”

Across the 19 races, Pérez ran close to teammate Jenson Button, going 9-10 in qualifying and 5-11 in races when they could be compared. It was less close on points 49-73… 

… giving the team an excuse to replace him for 2014, Pérez heading to Force India…  where he flourished at the quick-thinking minnow squad.

The Mexican scored at least one podium in four of the next five seasons, even in 2018 when he forced the cash-strapped team into administration to help it survive under new owners.

The Lawrence Stroll-led consortium has so far reduced crushing financial pressures, but building up Racing Point will take time with $30 million US dollar factory expansion plans revealed in April, and the new facility to be ready in time for the 2021 season.

…when Pérez hopes he can be one of the first to reap the rewards of the new era, nabbing the unexpected result the sport is hoping for. 

It’s a while off yet, but one that Mexico can get behind, just as it will this weekend with Pérez its tenacious fighter. One who has never given up… his long-term Racing Point contract a calculated risk.