Sergio Perez shares his feelings about being a Mexican driver in F1 and if it has played out negatively for him, while adds on inspiring youngsters.
F1 is a global sport and there are European and non European drivers and that is of course the same regarding the races themselves. Of the current 20 drivers, six are non European, Alex Albon separately races under a Thai flag. But recently, it was stated that Perez advised that he reckoned he wasn’t being praised enough for his achievements in 2022.
Fernando Alonso also alluded to the fact in the past that Latin drivers have been treated a touch differently to others on the grid. Perez concurred where he sometimes feels this way, but he reckons it is also a beauty of the sport that it has so many people from varied countries competing together.
“I think whenever you have a bad race, or a little bit of a bad patch as any other driver, sometimes, you can see that with the Latin drivers, you can hear a bit more criticism, where there’s only been a few races,” said Perez. “It’s not like the year has gone. You see with other drivers, they have similar issues, and it’s hardly been talked about”.
“So sometimes, I feel that way, it felt that way throughout my career. It was worth pointing it out, but at the same time, I think it’s the beauty of our sport, to have that together with the media, we are a great sport and as a sportsman, you always get that sort of motivation from here and there. Nothing absolutely more than that,” summed up Perez.
It’s an interesting statement to come out with. Perez has been in F1 a long time, so he has seen and heard a lot in the paddock and media. But having arrived in Europe as a child, the Mexican agreed that he felt that sometimes he was not taken seriously but added that it was not any kind of prejudice.
“No, to be honest, nothing like that,” said Perez. “But I felt that sometimes you are not taken seriously. Sometimes, people say well, he’s just a Mexican, and he’s lazy, his culture and so on and so on. It’s like just because you are Mexican, you are not able to compete to the best people in the world. Sometimes I felt that, especially in the early years. But on the other hand, it’s always nice to prove that anyone can be up there.”
In a nutshell, that’s what Perez did, arriving as a 20 year old in 2011, second place in China a year later led to to a drive at McLaren for 2013 where it did not really go according to plan. It was a tough time for the Woking outfit. But sometimes and unfairly, mud can stick.
“I don’t know,” said Perez. “I think you’ll probably have to ask them more than myself. I don’t know if their opinion is done by McLaren. McLaren happened many years ago. I’ve been in the sport for so long. Sometimes I feel like people don’t really understand the situation that I’m in, the team that I’m in, who I’m facing, all of that”.
“But anyway. I’m not here for people to give me any credit. I’m here for my own reasons, and just have to get onto it,” summed up Perez. There have been very few Mexican drivers in F1. As it stands, Perez is the most successful of all time. With his success of the last few seasons, since that debut win in 2020, in terms of racing in Mexico, that could set a precedent for Mexicans to say “I want some of that”.
“That would be amazing, just to show the young generation that you can come from Mexico and go all the way to the top,” said Perez. “You have to come at a very young age to Europe, first of all, to be able to race with the best drivers, with similar weather conditions, all these sort of things that you only get in Europe, not everywhere else. And just to believe in themselves and that they can do an even better job than what I am doing. I really hope this encourages more Mexicans to do that.”
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