• 5 minutes with ... Sergio Perez

Living the dream

Adam Hay-Nicholls April 26, 2011
Sergio Perez: "I always wanted to be a Formula One driver" © Sutton Images
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While he has the backing of influential countrymen, Sergio Perez made everyone sit up and take notice in Melbourne. The first Mexican in F1 for 30 years spoke to Adam Hay-Nicholls when the F1 circus was in China

So how's this Formula One lark going for you so far?
I'm enjoying it a lot, it's a dream to be here. I always wanted to be a Formula One driver.

You must have been really thrilled with your performance on your GP debut (Perez finished seventh in Australia on a one-stop strategy, before Sauber was disqualified for an illegal rear wing)…
Yeah, it was a really strong performance and a good strategy by the team. I take care of the tyres really well so we managed to have a great first race.

How much of that tyre preservation was down to you, or the car?
It was a combination of the two. We definitely have a good car for long distance, which is good for the tyres, but as a driver I did a good job of saving them.

Is the gap between F1 and GP2 smaller than you expected?
I think it's big in terms of experience, a big change.

How has the reaction been in Mexico?
Great, I have so much support at home. It's great motivation for me. The pressure is good. I just enjoy it a lot.

Is F1 getting more popular in Mexico now they have a Mexican driver?
It's becoming very big. We have a lot of support from the fans, they love Formula One. I hope that we will one day have another Mexican Grand Prix and I'm sure it will be one of the best races on the calendar.

Why was F1 always your target, and not IndyCar?
I wanted to get to the top and I knew from the beginning that F1 was the goal. In Mexico we went 30 years without an F1 driver, and I asked myself why? I thought it was worth a try, to do the impossible.

Are your family mad about racing?
Always. Every morning we would get up early to watch the races. And at 15 I left Mexico to race in Europe. I moved to Germany - so different from Mexico!

Who has been the most influential person in your career?
[Telmex owner] Carlos Slim. He's number one. We talk very often; we have a great friendship.

Sergio Perez takes on his hero Michael Schumacher in China © Sutton Images
Who do you most admire?
Michael Schumacher. He's not really my hero, but for what he did. We will never see someone win seven titles again. I'm very happy to drive with him, and to beat him sometimes. It's a dream.

Is Sauber a good team to start your career with?
I think it's the perfect team. They understand rookies very well, particularly Peter Sauber. If there is something wrong, I like that they always come and tell you face-to-face.

Is Ferrari the dream job?
Yes, that would be a good dream. But at the moment I'm not thinking about this, I'm focusing on my start in F1. I have a long way to go, I want to do a great job here at Sauber, and I want to be in F1 for a long time.

Do you have many friends among the drivers?
No not really. Just some of the guys I've raced before in other series, like Alguersuari and Petrov. That's it.

Do you go back to Mexico very often?
If I get the chance I always take it. It's important for me to go home as often as possible, but our schedule is so demanding.

What would you be doing in life if you weren't a racing driver?
I don't know, maybe a football player or just a normal person with a normal job and a normal life.