Sergio Pérez sees the golden age of Mexican runners
AP – Sergio Pérez has looked around the best motor racing series in the world and sees a golden age for Mexican drivers.
He sits third in the Formula 1 (F1) championship after four races, just behind his Red Bull teammate and reigning champion Max Verstappen ahead of this week’s first Miami Grand Prix.
Mexico’s Pato O’Ward just won his first IndyCar race last week and is set to sign a new contract with McLaren. His compatriot Daniel Suárez is in his second season at the wheel of Trackhouse Racing, a team co-owned by Pitbull and built around Suarez.
“I think Mexico is having its best time in (racing) history, with the best drivers in every series. It’s great,” Pérez said in an interview hosted by Red Bull partner ExxonMobil. how long it lasts is anyone’s guess.
O’Ward turned 23 on Friday, is one of IndyCar’s bright young stars and has F1 aspirations.
Suárez, 30, is a former Xfinity Series champion driving the best Cup opportunity of his career.
This golden era of Mexican racing seems to rest on Pérez and his next steps. The 12-year-old F1 veteran is 32 and in the final year of his Red Bull contract. A team representative cut a question about his future with Red Bull and the series in general.
Pérez said he was not using the final year of his contract as motivation to push for a first career championship, which would also be the first for a Mexican driver. He is just five points behind Verstappen and Ferrari leader Charles Leclerc by 32 points.
“I’ve been in Formula 1 for 12 years, so I’m very relaxed about it,” Pérez said. “I just make sure I enjoy it.”
Pérez is only the sixth Mexican driver in F1 history, and he has been the only one on the grid for several years since Esteban Gutiérrez lost his seat with Haas F1 after 2016.
Pérez is adored at home and last season became the first Mexican driver to step onto the podium at the Mexican Grand Prix, where he placed third. He enjoys a large fanbase during the race in Austin, Texas, and will likely have another in Miami.
Pérez hopes there will be more Mexican F1 drivers on the way.
O’Ward expressed a desire to reach F1, and Pérez noted that Red Bull had signed Mexican driver Noel León as one of its junior production drivers.
“It’s great,” Pérez said. “That’s what we need.”
Pérez says he doesn’t get to talk to O’Ward very often and when he does, it’s not necessarily about the race.
“We talked a few days ago about life,” Pérez said. “We are not in regular contact, but we talk to each other when we see each other.”
Pérez said if the F1 racing calendar gets much longer – 23 races were scheduled this season before Russia’s was scrapped following the country’s invasion of Ukraine – he might not be there because it would keep him away from his growing family for too long. He already has two children and a third is on the way.
“I don’t like bringing them to the races. I come here for work. I do my own thing,” he said. “Miami would have been a good opportunity for them to come. I’m expecting a third (child) very soon, so my wife can’t travel right now.