RedBull Driver Sergio Pérez discusses upcoming Miami Grand Prix, 2023 F1 Season, and Cinco de Mayo celebrations
The superstar Mexican driver is eying back-to-back victories at the Miami Grand Prix this Sunday, May 7, & currently sits in second in the Drivers Championship.
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Red Bull and Formula One driver Sergio ‘Checo’ Pérez, is eyeing consecutive victories at the Miami Grand Prix this Sunday, May 7, but first, the Guadalajara-native spoke to AL DÍA News about his preparation for the first U.S. race of 2023 — the highly-anticipated Las Vegas Grand Prix this November, and offered some insight into his Cinco de Mayo celebrations.
The interview was made possible by ExxonMobil, the official technology partner of the Red Bull Racing Honda team since 2017, providing high-performance race fuel and lubricants as well as full-time laboratory and trackside engineering support.
Prepping for Miami
Ahead of what is expected to be an incredible race day on Sunday in Miami, at the International Autodrome — an outside circuit around Hard Rock Stadium and its private facilities — Checo spoke on what it’s like to race in the U.S. ahead of the 2023 season’s fifth race, where he’ll have the support of the large Latino community in South Beach.
“I'm very happy to be here. It is a country that always welcomes me with open arms. And, having many Latinos is incredible,” he said.
Red Bull’s dominant 4-0 start to the 2023 Formula One season continued last race day at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, thanks in part to Pérez, who’s won two of the four races thus far in the season — the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix — and at Baku on Sunday, April 30.
His teammate and two-time F1 Drivers Championship winner, Max Verstappen has won the other two contests for the Red Bulls.
His blazing start to the season currently has him in second place in the Drivers Championship, just six points behind his Dutch-Belgian teammate — 93 points to 87 points.
Pérez, however, could be on a new team next year due to rising tensions with Verstappen. He’ll look to take advantage of his great start to the season and end the year with the two available pieces of silverware. He’s also never won a Drivers Championship in his 12-year F1 career.
In the short term, Pérez is focused on Friday’s practice sessions and qualifications on Saturday that’ll be key to earning his second-consecutive race victory.
“I think it's going to be very important to have a good qualification,” said Pérez. Secondly, it's going to be very important to be able to be competitive in the race, having a good base and key race pace.”
This is not the first time Red Bull find themselves in a position like this that also involves Verstappen.
The situation has been compared to that in 2018 when a season-long rivalry between a 20-year-old Verstappen and then-teammate Daniel Ricciardo unfolded out on the track, and led to the two crashing into each other leading to a double-DNF for the team in Baku.
Pérez is under contract until the end of 2024, but his aspirations for a championship and the team’s seemingly favorability towards the two-time champion could force the team into making a difficult decision at the end of the year, unless the heated relationship can cool.
With Red Bull currently 90 points clear from second place team, Aston Martin, a lack of rival team competition could soon form an intra-battle between the two teammates.
Being the only Latino in F1 and upcoming races
In Formula One’s 73-year history, only six drivers have hailed from Mexico and who have taken part in races since F1’s inception in 1950. Pérez is the most successful, with six-career Grand Prix victories.
Former drivers include Ricardo Rodríguez 1961–1962, Moisés Solana 1963–1968, Pedro Rodríguez 1963–1971, Héctor Rebaque 1977–1981, and most recently Esteban Gutiérrez, 2013–2014, 2016.
For Checo, being the sole Mexican — and most successful — has made him the poster boy for Mexico, with an entire nation behind him in support, especially following the huge success of Netflix’ original series, Drive to Survive, that thrust F1 into the U.S. and North American mainstream.
“The truth is, it’s incredible. To have an entire country behind you. All Latin America, I never would have imagined it. And it's a big responsibility. Representing my country around the world is very special,” said Checo, who left his homeland to go to England at 14-years-old to chase his F1 dreams after a short stint in the U.S.
As one of Mexico’s top athletes, alongside Championship boxer, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, the Red Bull driver touched on getting to drive in the upcoming Mexico City Grand Prix on Oct. 29, a homecoming race.
“It's super special too. When I'm in Mexico, that race is crazy,” Pérez said.
Pérez went on to talk about one of the more highly anticipated races this season, the first ever Las Vegas Grand Prix set to take place this Nov. 18. The driver told AL DÍA he thinks the race will be the “most important event of the year.”
The 3.8 mile track will run through the heart of the city on the Las Vegas Strip, as drivers blaze past some of the most world famous casinos and hotels at speeds of up to 212 mph.
“I think it's going to be a unique race track. What we're going to experience in Las Vegas is going to be a unique moment. It’s going to be something very special because Las Vegas with Formula One, and I’ve already said it, it's going to be the most important event of the year,” he said.
Checo’s favorite car and Cinco de Mayo celebrations
And if you ever wondered what car the superstar race likes to drive off the F1 track, it’s a good ol’ American choice.
“I drive a Ford. I like the truck,” he said. “They can take you everywhere. They have a lot of space.”
Ahead of Cinco de Mayo this upcoming Friday, the yearly celebration which celebrates the anniversary of Mexico's victory over the French in 1862, Checo has practice sessions on Friday but hopes a victory on Sunday will be his celebration of the Mexican holiday.
“Cinco de Mayo is a very special day for my country and as a child we always did it with festivals or parties. Now I hope to celebrate it more on Sunday,” he said.
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