In more ways than one the 2022 Mexican Grand Prix is going to be a vital drive for Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.
The Minister of Defence to some and a driver even better than Mark Webber according to many others, Perez has a lot riding on him this weekend.
For starters, that he’s never stepped a foot on the top step of the podium here at Mexico is reason enough for Perez to drive a memorable race in these next few hours.
And second that he’s got quite a chance of doing what many will simply relish is bound by the fact that Sergio Perez begins today’s race from fourth on the grid.
While a P4 is exactly what the famous Mexican driver bagged when he last stepped on the podium here in 2021, that he bags a podium at Mexico City is also vital from a purely statistical point of view.
So what is that?
Should the man also often regarded at Max Verstappen’s Red Bull deputy bag a top three finish in what lies ahead, it would mean the tenth career podium for Perez in 2022.
Interestingly, his final podium of the last season, that is the dramatic 2021 Formula 1 World championship came here amid the rip roaring reception of his home crowd.
Another here at the challenging and exhausting Autodromo Hermanos Rodrigues circuit would mark his second career podium on home territory.
In some ways, one could say, Sergio Perez, a bloke with zero politically correction intentions on and off the grid and one blessed with a naturally attacking style of driving, has unfinished business at Mexico.
Today, the crowds don’t only cheer only for Verstappen alone when it comes the Red Bull drivers. That’s with much regard to Formula 1’s famous double world champion.
It seems, in Perez the racing obsessed has found a simpleton albeit one determined to drive to his last iota of energy, which makes the Mexican an endearing subject to many.
And it’s precisely there where seems to rest the unfinished project of the racy Guadalajara-born F1 talent, a man who many consider is a Mexican Tom Cruise.
Not once has the 32-year-old Sergio Perez breached past the second row and broken into the first row where starts to the Mexican Grand Prix are concerned.
Even yesterday, i.e., much important quali-day, Perez, driving in home territory could only bag a fourth on the grid upon the completion of Q3.
Whilst he was by far the better of the drivers to handle the tricky kerbs and the draining main straights when you pit Red Bull versus Ferrari, he could still only capture a P4.
And while rhetorically speaking, that’s not a disaster since as previously shared in the piece, the same grid position culminated into a podium in 2021, one reckons 2022 ought to be different.
But will it actually be? If so, how hard or nasty will it all become for the respected Red Bull racer given the Ferraris of Sainz and Leclerc will be keen to race just as hard as Perez himself after rounding up a rather sedate Saturday quali run.
All of that said, another podium won’t be too awful but obviously truth be told, they, i.e., the El Tri come to see a top of the step performance on their home track.
A P1, not a P2 or a P3!
So what’ll it be?
All to play for, Checo.
Sergio Perez at Mexico 2015 onwards
2021– started fourth and got third
2019– started eleventh and got seventh
2018– started thirteenth and got DNF
2017– started tenth and got seventh
2016 – started twelfth and got tenth
2015– started ninth and got eighth