Mexico City, Oct 26 (EFE).- Mexico’s Sergio “Checo” Perez, the teammate of reigning two-time Formula 1 champion Max Verstappen at Red Bull, said here Wednesday that Latin American drivers seeking to break into F1 face serious obstacles.
“There is good talent in my country, there are good drivers, the same in all of Latin America. But it’s a sport in which there are not many opportunities. One or two spots open per year, it will depend on how much you want it,” the Guadalajara native told a press conference ahead of the Mexico Grand Prix.
Each of the 10 F1 teams has two drivers.
Perez, 32, currently the only Latin American in Formula 1, said that aspiring drivers in the region will have to do what he did: go to Europe to learn the ropes.
“Now the drivers with more years of preparation than when I arrived (in F1) in 2011,” he said. “We remain behind Europe and for us to have representatives in Formula 1 we need them to go to Europe at an early age, to compete on its tracks and its tires because ultimately, F1 remains a European sport.”
The last time a Latin American driver claimed the championship was in 1991, when Brazil’s Ayrton Senna (1960-1994) won a second consecutive title.
Checo, two of whose four career Grand Prix victories came this season at Monaco and Singapore, respectively, finished the 2021 Mexico Grand Prix in third place, behind Verstappen and seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton.
With three races left in the season, the Mexican is 2 points behind Monaco’s Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) in the battle for second place in the driver’s standings.
But Perez, who has a massive following in his homeland, said Wednesday that he cares more about winning in Mexico on Sunday than where he ends up in the standings.
“I have not suffered discrimination in Formula 1 for being Latin American, it’s more that if I have a good race it’s not discussed as much as if I were a European driver and if I have a bad race it’s talked about more,” he said.
“I am fortunate to be Mexican and it’s part of the sport, I don’t like to complain about this,” Checo said.
Besides a second straight driver’s championship for Verstappen, the Red Bull team is celebrating its first constructor’s trophy since 2013. EFE rcg/dr