Sergio “Checo” Pérez, Formula One’s only Mexican driver made history at the 2021 Mexico City Grand Prix by standing on the podium at his home race.
The 31-year-old is currently on his first season with the Red Bull Racing team and has been achieving the intended results on the prestigious team. The Mexican GP is Pérez’s third consecutive third-place podium, the previous ones being in the United States and Turkey.
The Saturday qualifying did not go as planned for Red Bull as they placed to start on the second row of the grid for the race, with their rivals Mercedes taking over the front row. Due to this, many people thought that it would create an obstacle for Red Bull, but the team proved them wrong.
“It’s lights out and away we go here!”
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen took the lead from third on the grid at the first turn, overtaking the two Mercedes in front of him.
Then, chaos arose in that first turn as Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas who started at pole position was shoved into a spin by McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo making Bottas drop various places. Pérez dodged the accident by driving across the grass at turn one, however, he rejoined the race in third place.
Alpha Tauri driver Yuki Tsunoda and Haas driver Mick Schumacher, sandwiched Alpine driver Esteban Ocon and as a result, both flew up in the air and were forced to retire their cars at turn 2.
The safety car was brought out to clear away the cars and the race restarted on lap 5.
For the next 29 laps, Verstappen led the race with Mercedes’ seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton following behind him and Pérez pressuring Hamilton from the third position. Then, Hamilton made his first pit stop putting the two Red Bulls in the lead.
It was not until lap 34 when Pérez wrote history. His teammate Verstappen was called in for pitstop making Pérez become the first Mexican to lead a home race. Mexico City’s Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez was filled with 138,435 fans who rumbled away as they celebrated Pérez’s first position.
Pérez then pitted on lap 41 and rejoined nine seconds behind Hamilton. Ten laps later, the crowd went crazy when Pérez caught up to Hamilton and they battled it out for the second position. Pérez attempted to overtake him with DRS multiple times, however, was unable to do so and had to settle with third place in the end.
Verstappen won the 2021 Mexican Grand Prix and Red Bull took home the third consecutive double podium.
“Ole, ole, ole, Checo!” screamed the Red Bull mechanics as they lifted up Pérez who was proudly waving the Mexican flag.
At the post-race interview, Pérez said the day had been unbelievable and that he obviously wanted more but what matters was that he gave his full heart out for his people.
In Spanish, Pérez said to his fans, “I want us to enjoy today, we deserve it. You’ve been the best crowd not just today, but from the beginning of my career.”
There celebrating with Perez was his family including his father Antonio Pérez who showed an immense amount of support to his son by hugging him and waving the Mexican flag around. The excitement was off the roof for the Mexicans at the track.
Many Formula One drivers congratulated Pérez for placing podium at his home race. Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc called Pérez the following day and told him how happy he was to see him celebrate his podium with his family.
Christian Horner, Team Principal of Red Bull Racing said Pérez has found his confidence in the car and his desire to get stronger has brought Red Bull to have the best team spirit.
“Checo has found his form in the last three or four races and that’s just presenting us with so many more options,” Horner said. “He’s totally in tune with that, he’s asking all the questions from the car as well and I have to say it’s probably one of the best if not the best team spirit we’ve ever had in this team.”
Hamilton expressed how impressed he was by Red Bull’s speed, “their pace, it was just unbelievable.”
He also said he has a lot of respect for Pérez and he believes he is doing a great job in his new team.
“He was able to follow so closely which highlights just how much more downforce they were able to carry,” Hamilton said. “Big up Checo for keeping it clean.”
Next Race, Brazilian Grand Prix
Formula One returns to race Sunday, November 14 at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in São Paulo, Brazil.
The weekend will consist of practice one and qualifying on Friday, November 12, and practice two and sprint qualifying on Saturday, November 13.