Driver Profile: Sergio Perez

NameSergio Michel PĂ©rez Mendoza
Date of Birth26 January 1990
Place of BirthGuadalajara, Mexico
Car Number11
First Entry2011 Australian Grand Prix
First Win2020 Sakhir Grand Prix
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez before practice REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

Biography of F1 driver Sergio Perez

Perez began karting at the age of six, notching four victories in his first year while claiming the runner-up spot in the junior category.

In 1997 he participated in the karting Youth Class, winning a race and finishing fourth in the championship as the youngster driver in the category. The following year he returned to the junior category, winning eight races en route to the championship.

After stops in the Shifter 80cc and 125cc Championship, along with an appearance in the Skip Barber National Championship, Perez moved to Europe to compete in the German Formula BMW ADAC series in 2005. Far away from his home in Mexico, the youngster stayed in a restaurant owned by his team manager for four months. After finishing 14th his first year, he improved to sixth the following season.

Switch to Formula 3 and GP2

For 2007, Perez switched to the British Formula 3 Championship, moving to Oxford in the process. Perez dominated in the National class with T-Sport, winning two-third of the races en route to a straightforward triumph.

The following year, Perez and T-Sport moved to the premier International Class of the championship, and although he led the championship early on, he had to settle for fourth in the final standings.

Perez made the move to the GP2 Asia Series for with Campos Grand Prix for the 2008/09 campaign, becoming the first Mexican driver to compete at that level of motorsport since Giovanni Aloi in 1990. Two wins followed before joining the main 2099 GP2 Series, where Perez finished 12th in the standings.

The following year Perez took part in two rounds of the GP2 Asia Series for Bara Addax, before competing in the main series with the team, where he won five races to finish runner-up to Pastor Maldonado in the standings.

Perez makes the move to F1

In October 2010, Sauber announced that Perez would join the team for the 2011 F1 season, becoming the fifth Mexican to compete in the sport. He also became of a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy that same month.

Perez finished his first race, the Australian Grand Prix, in seventh despite stopping for tyres just once, the only driver to make fewer than two stops. Unfortunately for Perez, both Sauber cars were later disqualified for infringing technical regulations.

A big crash during the third part of qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix resulted in sprained thigh and concussion, ruling him out from the race the following day. In the end, Perez finished the season 16th in the Drivers’ Championship, with Sauber keeping him and teammate Kamui Kobayashi for the 2012 season.

Perez impressed during his second campaign for Sauber, scoring an impressive second-place finish at the Malaysian Grand Prix, finishing just 2.2 seconds behind winner Fernando Alonso. The result was Sauber’s best result as an independent team.

The result fuelled speculation that Perez would join Ferrari in the near future, and although he added two more podiums to his resume later in the year, he ended up make a surprise switch to McLaren following Lewis Hamilton’s move to Mercedes.

Disappointment at McLaren

The move to McLaren ended Perez’s association with Ferrari, but things didn’t go to plan for the Mexican.

A difficult opening weekend in Australia saw Perez qualify 15th and finish 11th. His campaign didn’t improve all that much from there, with the Mexican achieving a season-best fifth place finish in India.

In the end Perez could only manage an 11th place finish in the standings with 49 points, resulting in McLaren replacing him with Kevin Magnussen. A month later, Force India confirmed Perez would partner Nico Hulkenberg in 2014.

Perez finds a home

It took Perez three races to score his first podium with his new team at the Bahrain Grand Prix, as he held off Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo for third.

He’d have to wait until the 2015 to add a second, when Perez finished the Russian Grand Prix in third spot, before ending the year with three more top-five finishes to end the season with 78 points.

A slow start to 2016 meant Perez needed four races to score his first points of the season thanks to a ninth-place finish in Russia. His fortunes greatly improved from there as Force India introduced upgrades for the VJM09, with Perez finishing on the podium in Monaco and Baku.

In the end, Perez finished the year as the highest scoring non-Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull driver with 101 points.

Despite being linked with a move to Williams, Renault or Haas, Perez remained with Force India for the 2017 F1 season. Highlights included a fourth place in Spain and fifth in Canada and Singapore, as the Mexican once again ended the year seventh, 14 points ahead of teammate Esteban Ocon.

Change at Force India

After three straight non-points finishes to start the 2018 season, Perez brought home an eighth career podium at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The complexion of the season changed following the Hungarian Grand Prix when Force India was put into administration, caused by a group of creditors, including Perez, taking legal action against the team.

Perez backed his move by stating it was done to save the team and employees from collapse, with Force India’s assets purchased by a consortium of investors led by Lawrence Stroll. The team were re-admitted into the championship as Racing Point Force India, with Perez finishing in the points seven times from nine races after the break to secure eighth place in the standings.

New era with Racing Point

Lance Stroll joined Perez at the newly-named Racing Point, with the team having a transitional year following their 2018 issues.

A career-worst run of eight races without points came to an end in Belgium, with Perez turning his season around in the second half. Outside of a retirement in Singapore due to an oil leak, Perez scored points at every race after the break to end the year in 10th place with 52 points, 31 more than Stroll.

A strong start to the 2020 season came to a halt when Perez was forced to miss the British and 70th Anniversary Grand Prix after testing positive for COVID-19.

Big news came later in the year when, despite signing a contract extension with Racing Point until 2022, Perez announced he would leave the team at the end of the season, with Sebastian Vettel taking his seat.

The Mexican, now without a seat, didn’t let the news affect his performances, as he finished second at the Turkish Grand Prix. He was third for the majority of the Bahrain Grand Prix, only to be forced to retire with a few laps to go due to a power unit issue.

First career F1 win and Red Bull switch

Perez turned the disappointment into triumph a week later at the Sakhir Grand Prix. After going from second to 18th and last on the first lap, the Mexican battled back and took the lead on Lap 64, eventually crossing the line ahead of Ocon and Stroll to become F1’s 110th race winner.

The move helped Perez secure a move to Red Bull, where he replaced Alexander Albon as Max Verstappen’s teammate.

Perez’s season began with four points finishes from the first five races, before securing a second career win, and first with Red Bull, at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Verstappen was on course to take the chequered flag, only for a late tyre failure to end his race and hand the victory to Perez.

A mistake on the way to the grid in Belgium resulted in Perez crashing, forcing him to start from the back of the grid. The race was ultimately red-flagged after just two laps, with Perez being classified 19th due to a penalty to Stroll.

Perez bounced back from the disappointment by finishing third in Turkey, USA and Mexico. His efforts in defending against Hamilton at the season finale in Abu Dhabi helped Verstappen claim a famous first F1 World Championship, though Perez ended up retiring from the race due to an engine problem.

In the end, the Mexican ended the season a career-best fourth with 190 points thanks to a win and five podiums.