Sergio Perez junior racing record less than a thing of beauty to behold. The Mexican driver slogged away in GP2 for three years with a best finishing place of second in 2010 behind Pastor Maldonado in GP2 Asia series.
However, Sergio had something a certain Formula One team was desperate for in 2011, money and lots it. Perez was sponsored by Telmex one of North America’s largest telecoms companies.
Telmex sponsorship changes Sauber form
Peter Sauber had bought back his legendary team from BMW in 2010 but a lack of sponsors saw the Swiss built cars run with a plain livery for several races before Burger King came on board for the Spanish GP.
The team was strapped for cash and despite promising pace in winter testing, the team struggled with technical problems in the early rounds of the season, with no points from the first six races.
Sauber’s form picked up and on a shoestring budget collected 44 points over the second half of the season and managed with position in the 2010 constructors’ championship.
The funds that the Telmex sponsored Perez provided was a game changer for 2011 as the Mexican driver replaced Nick Heidfeld. The team developed a competitive car which saw them climb a position higher at the end of the season to seventh.
Perez breaks through with GP win
Following a solid if unremarkable second season with Sauber the surprise departure of Lewis Hamilton from McLaren led to Perez big opportunity. He was recruited to drive along side Jenson Button though he failed to live up to expectations and was released at the end of the season.
Perez then joined the Silverstone based team the known as Force India (which became Racing Point following the demise of the owner Vijay Singh). The team was known for punching above its weight and Perez survived a number of team mates finishing each year between P7 and P11 in the drivers’ championship.
Then in 2020 Sergio had his big break through. During the Covid stricken season Perez secured his first Grand Prix victory towards the end of the season in Sakhir.
Despite finishing fourth in the drivers’ championship, the new owner of the Silverstone team Lawrence Stroll had decided to replace Perez with Sebastian Vettel who looked all but finished in his F1 career.
Red Bull recruit Perez as Max wingman
Yet a late change of heart within the Red Bull team saw Alex Albon released and Sergio’s career given a new lease of life.
Perez was at best average during the following 2021 campaign though he was credited with assisting Verstappen on his way to claiming his first world drivers’ title playing an irrelevant cameo role holding up Lewis Hamilton bravely at the final event of the season.
However, Sergio failed to score enough points for Red Bull to take the constructors’ championship despite Verstappen winning the drivers’ title.
Red Bull did claim the constructor’s title the following season in 2022 though the improved number of team points were predominantly from the fifteen Verstappen wins rather than the 100 or so extra points Perez scored.
Verstappen/Perez rivalry like Senna/Prost?
Red Bull appear to have an even more dominant car this season and Perez has improved to ensure when Verstappen falters he has been there to pick up the race win for the team.
However, it has required Verstappen to be significantly out of position for Sergio to collect his current two wins of the year.
Despite little evidence Mr. Perez senior is now likening the intra team rivalry to the historic one between Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.
Prost and Senna were team mates in a dominant Newey designed McLaren car during the late 1980’s. Prost had suggested McLaren bring Senna into the team and to the surprise of everyone the Brazilian beat his French rival to the 1988 drivers’ title.
Perez’ father talks nonsense
Relations between the two deteriorated over the following year culminating in a controversial crash which resulted in neither driver scoring at the Japanese GP.
Sergio Perez’s father has likened the two pairs of drivers in a recent interview with Mexican media establishment Esto.
“You have to remember when McLaren had Senna and Prost. This is the same thing. Today we are living it again.”
“They are two tigers in the same cage. They both think the same, have the same breakfast, eat the same.
“You see they both try to take fastest lap from one another. In qualifying they want the pole; they want to be fastest in practice.”
Verstappen always had upper hand
Whilst Max Verstappen has been associated with the Red Bull team since he joined Formula One as a sixteen year old, Perez did not immediately better his established team mate when joining the team.
Further, Verstappen has comfortably had the upper hand over Perez during the two and a bit seasons they’ve been team mates.
Verstappen advantage being eroded
Perez father believes the length of Max’s association with the team has given him the upper hand.
“[Verstappen is] more settled in,” claimed Antonio Perez.
“You have to remember how long Max had been with the team.
“Checo can now walk at Max’s pace. I still feel that between Max and Checo there are a few thousandths in favour of Max, and in the difficult tracks I see them very even.
“Every morning, [Checo] knows that he is in a team that is in first place and that second is the first loser.
“[Before Red Bull], when he finished 10th, it was amazing, but if Checo had had this opportunity from the beginning as other young drivers have had, he would already be World Champion several times, I have no doubt.
“And I believe we will have Checo Perez here for the next 10 years and I see him as World Champion.”
Perez title challenge decided by Spanish GP
It’s difficult to disseminate which of Perez senior’s bold claims of his son are the more ludicrous. Even Sergio’s King of the street race title was called into question as he was easily beaten in Miami by Verstappen who started P9 due to a late crash by Charles Leclerc in qualifying.
The next three race weekends come fast and thick as back to back events starting the European season. By the end of them a third of this season will be complete and if Perez remains within less than 50 points of his team mate he will have done well.
It is of course every proud father’s right to talk up their son’s potential but its difficult not to think Mr. Perez senior was been recently spouting utter nonsense.
Racing hard and fair for the win 🤝🏆
— Oracle Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) May 9, 2023