Components 1 – Sergio Perez: his method from the small Bavarian city to the Components 1 title contender

Munich – suddenly is where nobody expected a few weeks ago – in the midst of a Formula 1 title fight. Sergio Perez made a statement with his victory at the Monaco Grand Prix.

The difference with his Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen is only 15 points. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc is only six points away. “It’s a dream come true,” the Mexican said after the victory. “Besides racing at home, I don’t think there is a weekend where winning is as special as here in Monaco.”

Red Bull Horner boss praises Perez: ‘in the shape of his career’

Team boss Christian Horner praised Perez, saying: “He’s in a good shape with his career. He’s doing a great job.” So no wonder Perez extended his contract with Red Bull right after his big win until 2024. Regardless of the opening race in Bahrain, where he retired on the last lap and missed the podium, he consistently finished in the top four. He could already be second in the drivers’ standings if he doesn’t allow his teammate Verstappen to beat him in the Spanish Grand Prix due to the team’s request.

One thing is for sure: Perez has come close to Verstappen in terms of performance. In qualifying in Monaco, he finished ahead of the Dutchman for the second time this season – the same as in the whole of last season.

Sky expert Ralf Schumacher has praised the 32-year-old. “I don’t think Sergio will end up showing the consistency that Max Verstappen has. But in Monaco he was the better driver all weekend. Max should take this as an opportunity to learn a few things from his teammate,” he wrote in the special “Sky” column with it.

“Max has a very bold driving style. In the past he got along well with heavy cars. On the other hand, the new concept of vehicles suits Sergio more. As a driver who is very good at protecting tires, you can get more out of the car.”

Team boss Horner promises an open duel between Perez and Verstappen

So does Verstappen now have real competition from his own stable? Horner promises an open duel: “We don’t care which one wins the world championship. Of course, the constructors’ championship is very important to us. But whether Max or Chico wins the title – they are both Red Bull drivers and have the same chances.”

Norbert Haug expects highly competitive races. “For me, Perez is not the favorite. But I don’t think it’s completely out of the question that he can take the lead over the next two or three races,” says the former Sky motorsports chief.

Furthermore: “It is remarkable that Perez is not the classic pupil and young Red Bull driver who grew up.” It could have been like Piere Gasly, Yuki Tsunoda or Alexander Albon. But Red Bull officials have moved the Mexican, who originally belonged to Ferrari’s youth programme, from Racing Point to Red Bull for the 2021 season.

“Maybe it wasn’t his preferred solution,” says Haug. “But I think it’s great that he’s taking advantage of a chance like this. It’s getting better. Maybe we haven’t seen his best yet. Anyone who drives a race like this in Monaco and doesn’t make any mistakes. He’s got what it takes. And that he whispers tires, that was already evident at Sauber ten years ago, when it was really impressive.”

The only professional life begins in Germany

What’s not often known: Perez got the defining start to his career in Germany. In 2005, at the age of 15, he left his native Mexico to take the next step in his career in German Formula BMW.

There wasn’t much money for a good stay at that time. He lived in the small Bavarian town of Vilsbiburg (population around 12,000) in a back room in the restaurant of his team boss, Günther Unterreitmeier.

In an interview with Red Bull Magazine, Perez recalls that time with mixed feelings. “Everyone was nice to me, but it was really hard for me at first. Sometimes I was so desperate and I almost lost my head.”

He once told Motorsport-Magazine, “I was completely alone in a difficult and unknown country completely different from my home country. I had nothing, only my dreams.” A year later, he took part in the same racing class at ADAC Berlin-Brandenburg and moved to the German capital for the purpose.

None of this would have been possible if he had not received financial support from home. Carlos Slim Dummett became his patron. He is the son of Carlos Slim Helu, who owns the Mexican telecom company Telmex, among other things, and is one of the richest people in the world with assets estimated at around $64 billion.

His sponsor not only supported him financially, but also personally. “Carlos often called me and gave me advice,” Perez says of his time in Germany. “His recommendations helped me a lot not to lose sight of my goal. I am very grateful to him.”

Perez has hurt him as a paid driver

In 2011, after becoming the runner-up in the GP2 series, he joined Sauber in Formula 1. He was alarmed by the prejudice that he would only start in the first class of motorsport due to financial help from home.

“At the beginning of my Formula 1 career, I was a bit disappointed because I was seen as a paid driver,” he said at the time. “I’ve given so much and struggled so much to be here that it pains me to be a paid driver. But it only took me one sweat to prove that I’m not.”

He took his chance: in the first race, he finished seventh, thus scoring his first world championship points. He can now look at 220 races and three wins. And it seems that Perez is only now realizing his full potential.

Oliver Jensen

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