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Biography

SEASON INFORMATION
15/08/2013

 

Biography

 
By the age of 13, Sergio had won numerous karting championships both in his native Mexico and the United States, and it came as no surprise that he came to the attention of Mexican telecommunications company Telmex with whose team (Escuderia Telmex) he contested the Skip Barber National Championship in 2004.

Having finished 11th overall, the following season Sergio headed to Europe where he contested the German Formula BMW Championship with Team Rosberg, finishing second in his very first race.

He remained in Formula BMW in 2006, finishing 6th overall, at which point he decided that the best move - in terms of his career - would be to head to the proving ground for most of the true racing legends, British F3.

With 14 wins, 14 poles and 9 fastest laps, Sergio won the British F3 International Series national class with T-Sport, also finding time to represent his country in a couple of rounds of the ill-fated A1 GP series.

For 2008 he moved up to the international class of the British F3 Championship, remaining with T-Sport. Despite leading the championship in the early stages, being one of the only drivers running with a Mugen Honda engine, he finished the season fourth overall courtesy of 4 wins, 2 poles and 5 fastest laps.

In 2009 he contested both the GP2 Asia championship (with Campos) and the main GP2 series (with Arden). Finishing 7th in the Asia championship, with wins at Sakhir (his maiden GP2 Asia outing) and again in Qatar, he could only manage 12th in the main series however. At the end of the year he contested two rounds of the 2009/2010 GP2 Asia Series with Barwa Addax.

He remained with the Spanish outfit for the 2010 GP2 Series, partnering Holland's Giedo van der Garde. 4 wins, 1 pole and 6 fastest laps were enough to secure the runner-up spot to Pastor Maldonado, albeit 16 points adrift of the Venezuelan.

In early October 2010, Sauber announced that Sergio would partner Kamui Kobayashi the following season, the Swiss outfit also confirming a 'partnership deal' with his long standing sponsor, Telmex.

In the Young Driver and Pirelli tyre tests in Abu Dhabi at season end, Sergio gave a good account of himself, looking more than capable of keeping pace with his highly popular Japanese teammate. And so it proved to be, the Mexican proving to be one of the most encouraging rookies of recent times, much like his teammate.

In the opening race, having qualified thirteenth, Sergio finished seventh, just ahead of his teammate. Sadly, an irregularity with the Sauber's rear wing meant both drivers were disqualified and consequently the Mexican did not become a member of that exclusive club for drivers that have scored points on their F1 debuts.

Much of the reason for Sergio's superb performance in Melbourne was down to his excellent tyre management, the youngster making only one stop. Then again, it being the first Grand Prix for Pirelli, his rivals were still learning about the new rubber. However, fact is, over the course of the season, Sergio proved to have impressive tyre management skills, using them to his advantage on many an occasion.

He retired in Malaysia after being hit by a piece of ballast from Sebastien Buemi's Toro Rosso, while in China he collided with Adrian Sutil and was subsequently handed a penalty which saw him cross the finish line in seventeenth.

In Spain he finally opened his points account however, two weeks later, another milestone which should have been celebrated was somewhat overshadowed. The youngster made it through to Q3 for the first time. However, he crashed at the Nouveau Chicane on his first run and was subsequently ruled out for the rest of the weekend. He was passed fit for the Canadian Grand Prix that followed but subsequently withdrew - to be replaced by Pedro de la Rosa - after feeling unwell following the Friday practice session.

Back in the car for the European Grand Prix two weeks later, he achieved his best result to date when he brought his C30 home in seventh.

At the halfway point, Sauber was sixth in the standings and looking good for the remainder of the championship. However, Force India now began to improve with each outing, as did Toro Rosso, the Swiss team paying the price for ceasing the development of its diffuser.

While there were retirements in Belgium and Italy, Sergio fought back in Singapore, Japan and India, the youngster considering his Suzuka performance to be the best of his career.

Although he finished sixteen points down on his teammate, and sixteenth in the driver standings, Sergio had every right to feel satisfied with his first season. He out-qualified the Japanese driver eleven times while also proving himself to be consistent on Sunday afternoons.

Though only his second year in the sport, 2012 could prove to have been a watershed season in Sergio's career.

Despite the team's four podium finishes, many still feel that even more was achievable, in 2012, not least the maiden victory under its own name.

Things got off to the worst possible start when, three days before the launch, Technical Director, James Key, for reasons still unexplained, opted to leave the Swiss team, resurfacing in September with Toro Rosso.

This time around there were no disqualifications in Melbourne, both drivers opening their points accounts at the first opportunity.

As the teams struggled to get to grips with the new rubber, Sergio appeared to be about to pull off one of the biggest shocks of recent times when he looked set to take victory in Malaysia. Reeling in race leader Alonso at a vast rate of knots a small error saw the Spaniard take a much-needed victory in the Ferrari. However, with the Italian manufacturer supplying Sauber's engines and Sergio a member of the Maranello team's Young Driver Academy, there was plenty to get the conspiracy theorists excited.

There were further podiums for the Mexican in Canada and Italy, on both occasions the Mexican demonstrating further proof of his uncanny skills in terms of tyre management.

However, just as in previous years the team began to stagnate in the second half of the season, so too Sergio began to lose his way as the championship wound to a close. Indeed, Sergio lost his sparkle shortly after Monza, round about the time he secured a "multi-year" deal with McLaren where he would replace Lewis Hamilton.

Interestingly, while new boss Martin Whitmarsh enthused at the youngster's 'giant killing' capabilities, Luca di Montezemolo, whose team had shunned the Mexican and opted to retain Felipe Massa for an eighth season, claimed Perez was not yet ready for a "top seat".

In a mystifying dropping off in the final stages of the season, Sergio failed to score a point in six successive races, getting involved in far too many coming-togethers for most people's liking.

As he steps into Hamilton's seat, joining another driver famed for his tyre management, one wonders whether Sergio will rise to the occasion or whether it will all be a bit too much for him, after all, he is still only 23.

Come season end, either Whitmarsh or Montezemolo will be crowing that they were right, it remains to be seen who made the right call. The gut feeling at Pitpass is that Sergio needed another season before the step up, certainly to a team such as McLaren..

Statistics - at the end of 2012 Season

Drivers' Titles: 0
Seasons in F1: 2
Grand Prix: 37
Wins: 0
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps:1

Best result in 2012: 2nd (2 times)
Best qualifying 2012: 5th (2 times)
Worst qualifying 2012: 24th (Monaco)

2012: Out-qualified Kamui Kobayashi 11 times
2012: Out-qualified by Kamui Kobayashi 9 times

2012: Completed 931 out of 1192 laps (78.1%)
2012: Finished 14 times from 20 starts (70%)

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