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Sergio-Perez didn’t know what he didn’t know, and in hindsight, that’s probably a good thing. Perez first got into a go-kart at the age of six and was a keen and successful racer in his native Mexico who knew what he wanted – a career in Formula One. Let’s not forget that long before he was born, there were no Mexican drivers at the pinnacle of world motorsport. He is half a world away from F1 in the heart of Europe. Not to mention there isn’t a proven path to follow. Perez wants to join F1, that’s the most important thing.

7 minutes

The Best Moments of Checo Pérez’s F1 Career So Far

The 2023 Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix will be the 250th F1 Start for Sergio “Checo” Pérez, and all of us at Oracle Red Bull Racing are proud to be a part of 58 of those.

Among the 20 drivers, the paths to the highest level of motorsport in the world are diverse and while many have come a long way, few have gone further than Perez.

It’s no wonder that over the course of his decade-plus F1 career, which has seen him achieve unimaginable success, fame and rewards, he can now pause F1’s endless focus on the present and reflect on where it all began. “No matter how crazy your dream sounds, it is possible,” he said. “

Perez’s career proves that, but how did he go from ambitious kid to F1 front-runner? Let’s fill in the gaps.

The destination was always F1

© Getty Images

Every F1 driver starts out in karts. It’s a rite of passage, and Sergio Perez is no exception. The youngest of Antonio and Marilu’s three children growing up in Guadalajara, Checo started competing in his native Mexico at the age of six. As the karts got bigger, faster and more powerful, he was often the youngest competitor in each category, and often one of the smallest. Although he won races early and often, he remembers go-kart racing as a family affair with endless rides from one place to another.

He recalled in an interview with the Austrian Red Bull Racing Team at the end of 2021: “My father and brother and I were traveling around Mexico, and there were races one after another in every city. After the races, we had to drive home, and sometimes we had to drive 10 hours. I would sleep in the car and go to school with my uniform on. It’s funny looking back, my dad would always have to drive me back to school on Monday mornings.”

Local success in karting was one thing, but young Checo’s ambitions extended far beyond the shores of Mexico.

“My brother raced in Formula Ford in the UK and I saw the level of competition they had in Europe. I knew if I wanted to get into Formula One I had to go to Europe,” he said.

Sounds simple in theory. In reality? not that simple. But Perez’s innocence, combined with his tenacity, helped him more than hindered him.

At the time, Checo’s karting movement was backed by Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim, but Europe became an obstacle. “He didn’t want to move to Europe because he thought I was too young,” Perez recalled. So Ceco did what Ceco always did and took control. Never mind that he was only 14 at the time, or that his parents’ phone bill was going through the roof.

“I went on the BMW website and found the contact details of all the teams and emailed them to try to convince them to accept me because I was a very good Mexican driver,” he recalled.

“It was funny, because of the time difference with Mexico, I had to get up at three or four in the morning to make phone calls,” he recalled. “My parents were getting mad at me because the (phone) bill was so expensive! In the end, I got all the There were quotes from the fleet, but they were all too expensive. Later, I suddenly found one that was very attractive and very cheap.”

The path to F1 was not straightforward

© Getty Images

In 2005, Perez, who was only 15 years old, came to Munich, Germany. At that time, he only had a one-way ticket, no winter clothing, no idea where he would live, and no idea what would happen next. He stayed for a time in a truck stop hotel and later in a restaurant. But he hitched a ride with the 4speed Media team, and that’s all he needed to know.

“There were only two mechanics and my engineer,” he recalls, “and they didn’t speak much English and I didn’t speak much English, so communication between us was almost impossible. The size of our team at the first race Very small, only one car. Everyone looked at us and wondered ‘What are you doing here?'”

This is a question Checo often asks himself.Yes, he’s close to the center of F1, but he’s still thousands of miles away

During two seasons in the Formula BMW ADAC series, he had occasional podium finishes and the opportunity to race at highly regarded German circuits such as the Nürburgring and Hockenheim, but these were only intermittently distracting from the day-to-day work. attention. By 2006, there was a fork in the road. As the saying goes, adversity reveals character rather than builds it? Before he knew it, Perez had decided to live up to his words.

An image of Sergio 'Checo' Pérez driving a Sauber F1 Team car.

Dreaming of the big time kept Pérez in the game

© Getty Images

“The game didn’t go well and I was too lonely. Life outside of the game was very difficult,” he recalls. “It took a toll on my performance. I was like, ‘Maybe I should go home and study.’ But the other On the other hand I thought, ‘No, I can’t give up. If I go back to Mexico, I’ll never come back. Maybe it’s worth giving it all, fighting for it, working hard for it’.”

This sentiment can be applied to any stage of his F1 career, but we will talk about it later. But for a 16-year-old to make that decision and take the road less traveled is his trait and his reward…

In the 2006 season, Perez finished sixth overall in the Formula BMW ADAC series. As Perez said, it’s not because of the grade itself, but because of the meaning it brings.

He recalled: “I knew that if I performed well during the season, I might get a chance with a bigger team. I called Carlos (Slim) and I saw that they were also very motivated. In 2007, they Sent me to the British F3 team and everything changed. I came to a great team, I had a coach and they made me a better driver. Now everything is getting serious and I Just like any other driver.”

better? Yes. Like other riders? Not really. In 2007, Checo won 14 of the 21 races in the British Formula 3 International National Series, taking the title and beckoning to the GP2 Asia Series.

Sergio Pérez celebrates his 2nd place at the 2012 Italian Grand Prix

The champagne moments start to flow

© Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

After winning the race in 2008-9, he progressed to the official series of GP2 (now Formula 2) in 2010, with 10 drivers eventually making it to F1. Among many future stars, Perez beat future F1 racing champion Pastor Maldonado to finish second in the series.

Ceco was a kid with a dream. Six years after arriving in Europe, he started his F1 journey.

05

Start, then stumble

At the end of 2010, Perez signed as a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy. In 2011, Perez made his first appearance in the F1 Australian Grand Prix for Ferrari Sauber. He put on a tire-saving stunt in Melbourne to finish seventh in the points, but his car was disqualified for a technical violation.

An image of Sergio 'Checo' Pérez answering questions at an F1 press conference.

The spotlight starts to shine on Checo

© Getty Images

His rookie season was short-lived and had its fair share of bumps and bruises. He missed two races with concussion symptoms after a serious crash in Monaco. While he had a best finish of seventh at Silverstone, his performance was arguably a step up when testing the 2009 Ferrari in September, which was another “choke me to death” moment. .

2012 was the year when Perez really showed his strength. At the Malaysian Grand Prix, he chased the two-time world champion Fernando Alonso in the last few laps and almost won the championship. In the end, he finished second and won the F1 championship for the first time. tower. Podium finishes at Montreal and Monza placed him among the top ten in the championship. Lewis Hamilton is set to leave McLaren after six seasons and the British giants have chosen the 22-year-old as his replacement, partnering Jenson Button.

On the surface it looked like an incredible opportunity – McLaren won seven grands prix in 2012 – but things started to go downhill in 2013 and McLaren has won just one since. Contest. Perez’s performance at McLaren was not as good as that at Sauber. He signed a contract with Force India for 2014, partnering German driver Nico Hulkenberg.

An image of Sergio 'Checo' Pérez celebrating an F1 podium finish.

A regular face on the podium

© Getty Images

Checo spent seven seasons with the team, during and after which the team’s name and ownership structure changed numerous times. For those who don’t know, Force India at that time was today’s Aston Martin. . But as team owners, supporters and teammates (Hulkenberg, Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll) have come and gone, Perez has been a fixture of the sport throughout this period. One of the most solid storylines in .

Force India’s Perez reached the podium in just the third race of 2014 in Bahrain. Every year, he finished in the top ten of the tournament. Every year, he manages to sneak a podium or two in the face of adversity. Every year, he gets more out of the car than logic and budget allow, and he protects Pirelli’s fragile tires better than his opponents during races.

During the period when the Mercedes team was winning, Perez was always able to achieve extraordinary results in the competition with his steady skills and soft touch.

By 2020, when the season finally started in July after being paused due to the pandemic, Perez’s F1 story was already written. He was 30 years old, had plenty of podiums on his resume and was so popular that the Mexican Grand Prix, which had been out of action since the early 1990s before returning in 2015, is now the most popular on the F1 calendar. One of the most popular events.

His legend, if it reaches its zenith there, is guaranteed. But, as so often happens with Perez, adversity presented itself… and opportunity presented itself.

Sergio 'Checo' Pérez wins the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix.

That winning feeling

© Getty Images

F1 is still racing in early December of the 2020 season, holding its second race in seven days at Bahrain’s Sakhir Circuit, a by-product of the pandemic’s impact on the calendar. The outer circuit of the Sakhir circuit has never been used for an F1 race before or since, but it had to be opened in order to allow for 17 grands prix this season. This unprecedented set of circumstances provided the backdrop for a moment that changed Checo’s career.

Going back two months, it’s unclear whether Ceco’s career can continue. Racing Point (formerly Force India) is now owned by Canadian businessman Lawrence Stroll and will be renamed Aston Martin Racing in 2021. Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel signed on, teammate Lance Stroll’s father paid for the team, and Perez became a redundant driver.

Sergio Perez as seen at the Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain in 2020.

The first of Perez’s six F1 Grand Prix wins

© BWT Racing Point F1 Team

Sakhir was the penultimate stop of the season and Perez was without a job the following year. Having nothing is not enough to describe his predicament.

Perez was knocked off the track by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc on the first lap. He returned to the track in the damaged Racing Point car, put on new tires and firmly Focus. Fast forward 86 laps later and Perez was the Grand Prix winner, taking his team’s first victory and becoming the driver with the most starts in F1 history (190).

That night, he stood at the top of the podium, with an expression on his face that was both exciting and unbelievable.

“I almost dare not get too excited for fear that I am dreaming,” he said with a smile after becoming the first Mexican to win the F1 title since Pedro Rodriguez in 1970. I will never forget the moment I saw the Mexican flag on the podium, it was an incredible moment for me and my family. I cried behind the wheel and was speechless for a while.”

Sergio Pérez of Mexico driving the Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 26, 2021.

Sergio Pérez impressed on his debut for Red Bull Racing Honda in Bahrain

© Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

In the 2021 season, F1’s long-standing regulations have reached their final laps and, as is often the case with mature F1 regulations, the competition on the field is getting fiercer. Mercedes’ ability to navigate the V6 turbo hybrid era has been tested by the comeback of the Austrian Red Bull team.

He won the team’s first victory in Azerbaijan and in his 11th season at the age of 31 set the best results in a single season: podiums (5 times), fastest laps (2 times), points (190 points) and overall championship ranking (fourth, the same as in 2020).

Sergio Perez of Mexico crosses the finish line to win at the F1 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan at Baku City Circuit on June 06, 2021 in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Paying back Red Bull Racing’s faith in him with a first win in team colors

© Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

Race winner Sergio Perez of Mexico celebrates with Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner after the F1 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan at Baku City Circuit on June 06, 2021 in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Celebrating with Team Principal Christain Horner

© Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

While Verstappen prevailed in the title-runner-up battle on the final lap of Yas Marina, Perez proved to be perfect as he locked horns with Hamilton in key moments in the first half of the race, allowing his teammate to keep fighting. Team player. “Checo is a legend!” Verstappen raved on the team radio, while Perez put a new spin on the nickname “Minister of Defense,” which came the following year when I asked about Abramovich’s 2021 season. Zabi gave it to him when he was standing.

“I prefer to attack ministers,” he laughs. “But I certainly feel like I’m fair – I’m very aggressive, but I usually give people enough space.” I feel like I’m someone you can play with and I think it’s enjoyable. Not many riders can compete with you right now. “

Austria’s Red Bull Racing RB18 propelled Verstappen to a second world title in 2022, but Perez himself was also at a career-best level. Victories on F1’s most iconic old and new street circuits – Monaco and Singapore – prove his strength and further prove that his reputation as the “ultimate street fighter” is completely correct.

He set another record by taking maiden F1 pole position on just his 215th start in Saudi Arabia, while 305 points and 11 podiums dwarfed his best results in a year that saw him Finished third in the Drivers’ Championship.

Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing walks to the grid prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka International Racing Course on September 24, 2023 in Suzuka, Japan.

Checo gets his game face on

© Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

The most important thing for a driver who values ​​”team” so much: At the Circuit of the Americas in Texas, he teamed up with Verstappen to win Red Bull Racing’s first constructors’ championship in nine years. It’s sweet news for both drivers, as well as Austria’s Red Bull Racing team’s only ever team principal, Horner.

“It’s been quite a journey,” Horner said. “We’ve been through tough times and had to keep picking ourselves up and getting back on our feet.” The hard work, blood, sweat and tears that go into this – it means a lot to us. “

Perez’s contract with Austria’s Red Bull Racing team (Oracle Red Bull Racing) will run until the end of the 2024 season, by which time he will join the top ten in Formula One’s all-time starts.

A child slept in bed wearing a school uniform, and his father drove him to class overnight. This seemed to be a story that happened to others, but Checo never forgot his origins and those who had been with him from the first day. Those around him have not forgotten his achievements.

8 minutes

¡ Vamos, Vegas! Come on!las vegas

Relive an epic night with Sergio Pérez as he drove his RB7 from the Las Vegas Strip to the Nevada desert.

This is a journey that is far from the end, but it is also a journey that requires reflection.

In 2023, he reflected on his path in The Players’ Tribune: “No one told me how to really do things. It was all on my own. A 14-year-old kid could think of this.” , it’s incredible. I just feel like it’s an advantage because I’m a 14-year-old kid but I think like a 30-year-old.”

“You look back and realize what you’ve done and how far you’ve come. I’ve been very lucky to have such a great career in Formula 1. It all started with a crazy plan from a crazy kid who, at four in the morning Calling someone on the phone who doesn’t speak English.

“I’m so proud of that kid!”

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The article is in Chinese

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