Sport Grill’s latest guest is none other than Force India’s Sergio Perez as the Mexican discusses his time at Sauber and McLaren, podiums and Force India’s chances of challenging at front of F1.
- Hi Sergio. What was it like growing up with your father managing other drivers, whilst you progressed through the junior categories?
Perez: Well, it definitely help me understand since very young the sport, the business and all what it takes to get to the big categories.
It was hard, I made many sacrifices, like leaving home very young, grow far from my family and friends, but fortunately at the end it all pay off.
2. When you stepped up to single seater racing, how special was it to land Escuderia Telmex as one of your first sponsors thus starting a partnership which is still going strong today?
Perez: Escudería Telmex has been the greatest bless in my career. They started supporting me since I was racing go-karts and without them I could have never made it this far. It was our goal since the very beginning, but it was a long road ahead.
We didn’t know if we were going to be able to achieve it. It was a hard way but fortunately I managed to deliver what they where expecting from me and they pushed very hard to find me seats in new categories until we both made it into F1. We’ve made a great teamwork together. They are more than a sponsor for me.
3. When you left Mexico in order to develop your racing career, how tough was it adapting to a new country and culture?
Perez: Very tough. I moved to a small town in Germany without knowing anybody, without speaking German and completely alone. So you can imagine how’s that for a 15 year old kid. The first years were hard.
4. After a successful GP2 stint, you enjoyed plenty of success at Sauber (2011-12) and McLaren (2013). How different did you find McLaren after an excellent 2012 which saw you collect three podiums?
Perez: McLaren is a big team with a lot of history. Right the opposite to Sauber. I get there expecting to be able to fight for the championship and it ended up being the contrary. So beside getting used to work with too much people and their forms, I also had to manage the frustration of not being able to deliver on the track.
We all know how that year went in McLaren and it was the start of the worst era of the team in F1. It was a lot of pressure, but I learned a lot from that experience. It made me a better driver.
5. After moving to Force India, you have had plenty of success with four podiums and had your most successful F1 season yet last year. Which moment stands out as your favourite so far from your three and a half seasons with the team?
Perez: Force India is the best that has happened to my F1 career. A young team with a lot of hunger for success.
It’s where I found the right environment to mature and show the world what I’m capable of. I treasure all the podiums that I’ve gotten with Force India, but the most meaningful for me was Bahrain in 2014. It gave me a lot of confidence and made me emerge from the hard year I was coming from.
6. 2017 saw Force India make a fantastic start with Spain and Canada being notable highlights. What are your expectations for the rest of this season as you look to regularly challenge Red Bull?
Perez: I think 2017 it’s being a very entertaining season for everybody: the fans and also for us as drivers. I’m enjoying it a lot. There are battles everywhere in the grid: at the front, at the middle… We have a very intense battle with the Red Bulls, I hope we can finish in front of them in some of the races left.
7. How much does it mean to you to race in front of your home fans at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez?
Perez: It’s the most special race for me and I’m sure for many drivers too. The atmosphere is amazing from Thursday to Sunday. The whole country turns into F1 and they make me feel a lot of support. I’m really looking forward to be there again this year.
8. Before you retire from motorsport, are there any top teams that you would love to drive for either in F1 or elsewhere?
Perez: I’d like to have the opportunity to fight for the championship. I think I got what it takes, so I’d like to be at any team that could give me that opportunity.
9. Finally, Force India have come a long way since they first started out in the sport nearly a decade ago. With increased backing, do you see yourself and the team improving further and start to regularly challenge Red Bull and Ferrari by 2019?
Perez: I hope so. F1 needs more competitive teams that challenge the top teams. I think we are moving in the right direction to be there more constantly.
Sport Grill would like to thank Sahara Force India F1 for putting our questions to Sergio Perez. We of course must thank Perez himself for taking the time to do this interview at a particularly busy stage of the season.