Born: 26th January 1990
Birthplace: Guadalajara, Mexico
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Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez made his F1 debut for Sauber in 2011 and before the end of his second season he’d signed to drive for McLaren.
Perez started karting in 1996. In 2004, with the support of prominent Mexican businessman Carlos Slim’s Escuderia Telmex, he began racing in the Skip Barber series in the USA.
The following year he moved to Europe and spent two years in the German Formula BMW championship.
Arriving in Britain in 2007 he raced for T-Sport, winning the national (junior) championship that year before graduating into the main series. He began his 2008 campaign strongly with three wins in the first six races, but faded to fourth by the end of the season.
He moved up to GP2 the following year, finishing on the podium in both races at Valencia and ending the year 12th. Switching from Arden to Addax he had a stronger 2010, but was beaten to the title by Pastor Maldonado.
Before the season was over he was signed by Sauber to partner Kamui Kobayashi in 2011. He also joined the driver development programme of Sauber’s engine supplier Ferrari.
Perez became the first Mexican driver to start an F1 race in 30 years when he made his debut in the 2011 Australian Grand Prix.
He would have scored a point on his F1 debut after finishing seventh at Melbourne but the two Saubers were disqualified for a minor technical infringement. A top ten finish four races later in Spain delivered his first points.
Perez reached the final ten in qualifying for the first time at the next round in Monaco, only to crash heavily at the beginning of Q3. He suffered no serious injuries, but missed the race and withdrew from the following round in Canada as he continued to recover. Perez later said it took several races for him to return to full fitness.
Nonetheless he picked up more points in the second half of the season and regularly out-qualified the more experienced Kobayashi. He impressed at Suzuka, battling through the field to score despite being unwell. He even found time to play a joke on his team, telling them on the radio his car had lost power as he sprinted out of the last corner.
A mid-season test for Ferrari indicated he was a candidate to join the team in the future, though he signed a contract extension at Sauber for 2012.
The 2012 season got off to a strong start for Perez as he came close to winning a rain-hit race in Malaysia. But a poorly-timed final pit stop and a costly mistake meant he had to settle for second place behind Fernando Alonso.
Further podium finishes followed in Canada and Italy, raising speculation he might be hired by Ferrari as a replacement for Felipe Massa. However this was repeatedly discounted by the team’s president Luca di Montezemolo, who insisted Perez was not yet experienced enough.
McLaren disagreed with Montezemolo’s assessment of Perez and when they found themselves needing a replacement for Lewis Hamilton the Sauber driver was signed on a multi-year contract beginning in 2013. Team principal Martin Whitmarsh praised Perez’s “string of giant-killing performances” during 2012.
However after the McLaren deal was announced he failed to score again for Sauber. In Japan he spun out while passing Hamilton and he tangled with Sebastian Vettel and Bruno Senna in Brazil.
Perez partners Jenson Button at McLaren in 2013.
Sergio Perez 2013 helmet
Sergio Perez – featured articles
Sergio Perez – latest articles
- Perez: ‘More respect’ between him and Button now
- Perez was “too aggressive”, says Button
- Perez: “I’ve never worked harder”
- Perez anxious for dry running before Melbourne
- Perez playing catch-up in the simulator
- Perez: ‘McLaren are the greatest team’ and race victories are expected
- Perez sees need to raise his game in qualifying
- Perez makes McLaren debut
- Perez: Ferrari was “never an option”
- Perez gets his big chance – but not with Ferrari
Image © Sauber F1 Team