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Mexico’s Sergio “Checo” Perez is one of the most experienced drivers on the current Formula 1 grid. Perez made his debut in 2011 with the midfield Sauber team, and already in his first season, he impressed with his good performances.
After a brief stint at McLaren in 2014, the Mexican signed for Force India, where he drove until 2020 when it was called Racing Point. During all those years, Perez fought in the midfield, getting occasional podiums and outperforming his cars for good results. However, it was not until 2021, when he signed for Red Bull, that the Mexican did not have a truly winning car after being almost left without a seat in Formula 1.
Since then, his numbers have done nothing but improve. With 4 wins, 26 podiums, 1 pole position, 9 fastest laps, and more than 1200 points, Perez has become the best Mexican driver in history and one of the best in the current grid, being one of the most consistent and solid drivers, capable of doing a lot with very little. Here are some of his best moments in Formula 1.
1. First Podium In F1 – 2012 Malaysian GP
After a promising season, Sergio Perez was looking to consolidate his position in the midfield in 2012, a year in which there was great equality between the teams, with 7 winners in the first 7 races. In the second round of the championship, the Malaysian Grand Prix, Perez qualified 7th and was looking to score some good points on Sunday.
It was raining heavily on Sunday, and almost all drivers started on intermediate tires. Perez was the first driver to stop for full wet tires, as conditions were torrential, and was running fourth by the time the race was suspended due to the weather.
Half an hour later, the race restarted, and Perez overtook Mark Webber’s Red Bull to take second place after Jenson Button’s pit stop. Conditions were deplorable but were improving, and the drivers gradually stopped to put on intermediates. After a slow pit stop by Hamilton, Perez took the lead. The Mexican stopped for intermediates shortly after, coming in second behind Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari. Then, he stopped for slicks, a lap later than he should have, keeping the Spaniard in the lead.
The Mexican started a chase to Alonso and had a good pace, threatening the lead. The Spaniard showed a relentless defense, keeping the Mexican behind, until Perez ran wide in a corner, losing a few seconds and the chances of victory. Thus, Alonso won the race, while the young Checo got his first fantastic podium, consolidating himself as one of the greatest promises of the category.
2. From 12th To 2nd With A Midfield Car – 2012 Italian GP
Perez scored his third podium of the season at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza in what turned out to be an excellent season for the Mexican. Twenty days later, McLaren announced him as Hamilton’s replacement for the 2013 season so things couldn’t be going better.
The Mexican could only finish twelfth in qualifying with the midfield Sauber, so the main objective for Sunday was to score points. However, in the race, his excellent tire management, which has characterized him so much since then, was the key for him to move up many positions.
Perez extended his first stint with hard tires to go to the maximum for the rest of the race with the medium compound when he made his pit stop. Thus, the Mexican had a significant pace during the race’s closing stages, overtaking world champions Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso and achieving an incredible second position.
3. Podium After Joining Force India – 2014 Bahrain GP
Perez had a complicated 2013 season with McLaren, as he did not adapt too well to the car and the team, and the results were not very good, so he was fired at the end of the year. In 2014, the Mexican was signed by Force India, a team consolidated in the midfield, and was looking for a fresh start in a new team.
In the season’s third round, the Bahrain Grand Prix, Perez qualified fourth, which was a very good position for Sunday. In the race, Perez had a good start, and for the first few laps, he fought with Felipe Massa for third position, eventually overtaking him.
After his two pit stops, Perez overtook teammate Nico Hulkenberg and Massa again to take third. During the race’s closing stages, he completed a great defense against Hulkenberg and then Ricciardo to score his first podium finish with Force India.
Thus, the Mexican restored confidence in him after a poor 2013 season and scored Force India’s first podium since 2009, creating a special relationship with the team.
4. Great Podium On the Streets of Baku – 2016 European GP
The Baku Street Circuit joined the calendar in 2016, hosting the European Grand Prix. Since then, it has been one of the circuits that has been best suited to Perez, where he has scored 3 podiums and 1 win.
In 2016, the Mexican qualified in a fantastic second position, but a change in the gearbox caused him to be penalized with 5 positions, dropping to seventh place. Perez made a great start in the race and overtook two positions in the first lap.
As the laps went by, the drivers suffered from the high track temperatures, while Perez once again shone with his tire management, with a two-stop strategy that worked to perfection.
The Mexican was fourth for most of the race, and during the final laps, he was closing in on the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, who had a 5-second penalty. Taking no risks, Perez overtook Raikkonen on the last lap to cross the finish line in a fantastic third position, the first of his good performances on the streets of Baku.
5. The Perfect Strategy – 2016 Monaco GP
The 2016 Monaco Grand Prix started under heavy rain, so the race started behind the Safety Car, with all drivers on rain tires. Perez started in seventh position, and the goal was to finish in the top 5 and avoid the chaos that could be created due to the bad weather.
During the race, conditions were improving, and the track was gradually drying out, so the drivers switched to intermediate tires on their first stop. Perez extended his first stint and overcut his opponents before switching to dry tires earlier than his rivals and achieving the undercut.
Thus, Force India’s perfect strategy in both stops made the Mexican driver climb up to third position and achieve a podium finish in the most emblematic circuit of Formula 1.
6. Unexpected Podium – 2018 Azerbaijan GP
Perez qualified eighth for the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, just behind teammate Esteban Ocon. On Sunday, the race did not start very well, as on the first lap, he had a touch with Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari that damaged his front wing, for which he received a 5-second penalty, thus dropping to the back of the grid.
However, the race was very chaotic, with six retirements and up to three Safety Car periods so that Checo could move up positions little by little. Halfway through the race, the Mexican was already seventh, making the most of his car’s good pace and excellent tire management.
In the final laps, the Mexican was running fifth. After race leader Valtteri Bottas suffered a puncture and a fantastic overtake on Sebastian Vettel, the Mexican finished third in an improbable podium finish.
7. Incredible Move On The Outside – 2019 Abu Dhabi GP
For the final race of 2019, Perez had to beat Lando Norris to finish tenth in the drivers’ championship in a very evenly matched year in the midfield—the Mexican qualified tenth, while Norris was sixth.
On Sunday, the two met during the race’s latter stages, when Perez began a chase on Norris in the closing laps. Checo was very close to the Englishman with two laps to go and failed to overtake.
However, on the final lap, the Mexican made an incredible move on Norris at Turn 11 to overtake him both on track and in the championship, in what he later described as one of the best moves of his career.
8. P2 Amid Chaos – 2020 Turkish GP
2020 was one of Sergio Perez’s best seasons in Formula 1, in which he had a competitive Racing Point with which he could score consistently and with which he made outstanding performances. At the same time, he was looking for a team for 2021, as the team was not counting on him for next season.
For the Turkish Grand Prix, marked from start to finish by rain and the recently renewed asphalt, making the track very slippery, the Mexican qualified third, while his teammate Lance Stroll took an unexpected pole position.
In the race, Perez avoided the initial carnage at the start, climbing up to the second position. A few laps later, Verstappen caught up with the Mexican and tried to overtake him but made a mistake that caused him to spin. Many other drivers spun on many occasions or crashed due to the slipperiness of the track.
Halfway through the race, Checo took the lead after Stroll’s second pit stop but lost the position a lap later after being overtaken by Hamilton. On the last lap, Leclerc tried to overtake Perez in the last chicane but ran wide, and the Mexican crossed the finish line in second place, just ahead of Vettel, who took advantage of his teammate’s mistake. Thus, Perez achieved the best career position up to that moment.
9. The Most Long-Awaited Win – 2020 Shakir GP
During the last races of 2020, Perez looked like he was going to be out of Formula 1 in 2021, as it was announced that Sebastian Vettel would replace him for the following season, and the Mexican was not yet under contract with any other team.
In the season’s penultimate round, the Shakir Grand Prix, Perez qualified fifth and was looking for a podium finish on Sunday. In the race, a collision with Charles Leclerc on the first lap sent him to the back of the grid, dropping to the last position.
However, the Mexican did not give up, and after that, he completed an incredible comeback, overtake after overtake and moving up the grid. On lap 21, he was already ninth. After a Virtual Safety Car that shook the grid, Perez moved up to fifth and, shortly after, overtook teammate Lance Stroll and Esteban Ocon to move up to third.
Perez was behind both Mercedes, which pitted after a Safety Car and had problems that made them drop some positions, making the Mexican driver take the lead. Thus, Checo held on for the remainder of the race, withstanding the attacks of his rivals and achieving a masterful victory. It was the longest wait in history for a driver to earn his maiden win in his 190th race start.
Shortly after his victory, Red Bull announced Perez as an official driver for 2021, saving the Mexican driver from being left without a seat.
10. Epic Comeback – 2021 Bahrain GP
In his first race with Red Bull, the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix, Perez qualified a lowly eleventh, while his new teammate, Max Verstappen, took the pole position. On Sunday, during the formation lap, the Mexican suffered a technical issue that he was able to fix but had to start the race from the pit lane, dropping to the back of the grid.
A Safety Car on the first lap allowed Checo to catch up with the rest of the pack, and from then on, the Mexican began an epic comeback, climbing up the grid. On lap 8, Perez was already thirteenth, having completed some good overtakes, and on lap 21, he was already in the points.
Thus, quietly but effectively, the Mexican climbed to fifth position, saving the weekend and completing a fantastic first race with Red Bull.
11. First Win With Red Bull – 2021 Azerbaijan GP
For the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, one of Perez’s favorite circuits, the Mexican qualified in a discreet seventh position. However, as in previous years, anything could happen on Sunday, thus expecting a chaotic race.
Checo made a good start, overtaking 3 positions in the first lap and moving up to fourth, just behind his teammate Verstappen. A few laps later, the Mexican overtook the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc, who had less pace, to take third.
Perez extended his first stint more than Hamilton and Verstappen, overcutting the Briton and getting second to his teammate. The Red Bulls had a good pace, and it looked like they would get a 1-2. However, with 5 laps to go, Verstappen suffered a puncture that sent him into the barriers, causing a red flag and sending Perez into the lead.
After the restart, the Mexican defended himself from the rivals and thus obtained a fantastic first victory with Red Bull, ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly, finally being the chaotic race he expected.
12. The Minister Of Defense – 2021 Abu Dhabi GP
For the last round of the 2021 season, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton arrived with the same points, so the world championship was at stake in Abu Dhabi in one of the most exciting title showdowns in recent times.
Verstappen took the pole position in qualifying, while Hamilton was second and Perez fourth. Hamilton overtook Verstappen early in the race, and Perez moved up to third on the first lap. Verstappen and Hamilton made their first stop before the Mexican, who stayed out longer, so he took the lead.
A few laps later, Perez was caught by Lewis Hamilton, who had a much faster pace on fresh tires, while Verstappen was about 8 seconds behind. However, Perez defended like a true lion, keeping Hamilton back and making him lose time for Verstappen to catch him.
After two laps keeping him behind, Hamilton finally overtook the Mexican, and by then, Verstappen was already right behind them both, thanks to his spectacular defense. In the end, Verstappen won the race and claimed the title, and he was full of praise for Perez.
13. The Most Awaited Pole Position – 2022 Saudi Arabia GP
The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is held at the fast and frenetic Jeddah circuit, which is one of the most difficult to master and where there are always chaotic races, with numerous accidents due to the narrowness of the track.
During qualifying for the 2022 edition, there were 2 red flags due to accidents in Q1 and Q2. In Q3, Perez completed an incredible lap that neither Ferrari nor Verstappen could match to take his first pole position.
Thus, in his 215th start, Checo broke his record for most F1 starts without qualifying on pole in incredible style.
14. Win At The Most Iconic Venue – 2022 Monaco GP
The 2022 Monaco Grand Prix was marked by chaos from start to finish and heavy rain on Sunday. At the end of qualifying, Sergio Perez crashed into the barriers, causing a pile-up and ending the session, finishing third.
On Sunday, torrential rain delayed the race by forty-five minutes. At the restart, the drivers started with full wets, as the track was very slippery, but it gradually dried out, and the drivers started to switch to intermediates.
During the first laps, Charles Leclerc led the race, ahead of teammate Carlos Sainz, with the Red Bulls of Perez and Verstappen trailing behind. The Mexican was the first to switch to intermediates on lap 17, followed by Verstappen and Leclerc on lap 19, while Sainz led with full wets.
The track was drying fast, and a couple of laps later, Sainz stopped to change directly to slick tires, and Leclerc was also called back on the same lap by mistake, which cost him more time. Thus, the Red Bulls, who entered a lap later, completed a successful overcut over the Ferrari, with Perez leading, followed by Sainz and Verstappen.
The Mexican endured the attacks of Sainz, who spent the entire race close to him, followed by Verstappen, to finish in first position. Thus, Perez won the victory in the most iconic circuit of Formula 1, Monaco, and celebrated with tears on the podium, and at night, he went to party. It is said that he did not return until the next day, but that’s another story…
15. Dominant Race – 2022 Singapore GP
As we have seen throughout this list, street circuits are Perez’s specialty, where you must manage your tires well and drive while avoiding chaos to prevail over others. The 2022 Singapore Grand Prix was no exception.
The Mexican qualified second, and in Sunday’s race, which started with rain and all drivers on intermediate tires, Checo overtook Leclerc in the first corner to take the lead.
From then on, Perez did not give up the lead. The Mexican driver made no mistake while other drivers crashed or spun due to the slippery track. He dominated the race from start to finish and took a fantastic victory, his second of the season, with a margin of 7 seconds over second-placed Charles Leclerc.
In more than 11 years of racing career, Sergio Perez has proven to be one of the best drivers on the grid, always getting the best out of his cars and taking care of the tires like no one else.
The Mexican is a driver who has left his mark on the category. After years in the midfield, “hunting” podiums, from 2021, he finally has a competitive car to match his talent and experience, with which he has proven to be at the height of the best, achieving podiums consistently and victories in some of the most challenging races.