YOU ASK THE QUESTIONS
Force India’s Sergio Pérez explains the perfect time to eat a nasty burger – and what the Pope’s doing in his car…
You have to get your elbows out if you want to speak to Sergio Perez these days. He’s a man in demand, having helped secure Force India’s best championship nish in the team’s history.
He was offered a Renault drive, but after much deliberation, turned it down to stay on at Force India. It’s a sign of his growing con dence in his ability to shape his future. Should his impressive form continue this year, he’ll no doubt have even more offers on the table come November.
No sooner have we sat down and presented the question cards, Sergio is back on his feet again, introducing himself to a pair of promotional ladies from team sponsor Hype. We’d better get this interview rolling – who knows who’ll come along next wanting a piece of his time.
Which driver would you go on holiday with – and where would you go? Pam Berryman, UK I have to pick a driver? F1R: You can take more than one if you like… SP: I would like to pick Jenson, I’d pick Fernando, I’d pick Sainz, and I would denitely go to a beach in Mexico. F1R: Jenson wouldn’t understand the three of you most of the time, though! SP: He would have to learn Spanish. But with a couple of beers he’d be speaking good Spanish!
What do you like to eat after a good race? Demijan Juric, Croatia Something heavy! Maybe a burger. You feel really hungry, especially because you don’t eat through the race. F1R: Is that the only occasion when you’re allowed to eat something bad? SP: Yeah, you’re really hungry and you just want something big! Especially if you’re taking a long ight or something, you just want a burger or something nasty. That’s when you’re allowed to drink the most as well! Is it true that your dad gets too emotional when you race, and so in the past Sauber asked him not to come to the races? Rob McAlees, UK [Laughs] It was true! But not because he got too emotional, it was because he caused a bit of trouble around the paddock. But he’s calmed down and now it’s okay. F1R: What sort of trouble did he cause? SP: Just taking pictures of things he shouldn’t and stuff like that. He was just excited.
What was your rst ever experience of motor racing? John Verhaert, UK My parents borrowed a kart for me with a kind of NASCAR cockpit and they let me do a few laps in a supermarket where there was a karting track. I didn’t want to stop. I remember the owner trying to stop me on the track to give the kart back, and I was just avoiding him and carrying on!
Tacos, burritos or quesadillas? Or all three? Martin Levers, UK I’ll go for tacos. I can’t eat too much!
Why don’t you admit you moved under braking when you crashed with Felipe Massa at the Canadian GP in 2014? Michael Hajjar, USA Because I didn’t move. I feel that I braked in a straight line and that my car was fully straight. I still don’t agree that I moved under braking.
When was the last time you heard from Martin Whitmarsh? Lee McEleny, UK Wow… I think the last time was when he wrote to me when I got the podium in Monaco this year. I don’t think he follows F1 too much any more. He just said “well done”. He was happy for me.
Why did you reject the offer to drive for Renault? And why do you feel it was so attractive to Nico Hülkenberg? Kevin Hayes, USA The reason I didn’t go there is because going into a new generation of cars, it’s important to see where everybody is. I had a really bad experience with McLaren and the rules were not changing a lot, so I think my next move has to be really solid for the good of my career.
The last time I raced in Mexico before the GP came back in before 2015, was maybe 15 years ago. Then coming back, driving in F1 with the support of my home crowd was something very special for me. It will stay with me for many years and I look forward to standing on top of that podium in the future. F1R: So do you think that Nico has taken a risk by making that move? SP: It’s de nitely a risk but I think it’s a good shot for Nico. It could work out well for him. F1R: You must be going to watch that closely because you know it could have been you… SP: Yeah, I’ll watch for the good and the bad!
Which conguration of the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez do you prefer: the old one or the new one? Albert Legutko, Poland Well I never drove the old one, but looking at the TV it was probably a bit more challenging. To be honest, having the stadium section with all the people makes it really special, so that kind of compensates for the loss of the Peraltada.
What is Vijay Mallya like to work with? Melodee Ghosn, USA He’s a great person, great fun. I really enjoy working with him. He’s come to Mexico a few times and it’s always fun to have him around. It’s a shame that he couldn’t be with us more last year [Vijay’s travel has been somewhat restricted because his passport is currently in the hands of the Indian government], especially when we’ve been having such good results, so I look forward to having him back with the team soon because he’s a great asset.
Can you describe the feeling you get driving through the stadium section at the Mexican Grand Prix? Robert Wood, USA
What thoughts are in your head before the lights go out and the race begins? Justina Jakubauskiene, UK You want to have as clean a start as possible, getting the procedures right, and positioning yourself well for Turn 1. You get very nervous, but once the lights go out it goes really fast.
How well do you know Esteban Ocon? How will he fare at the team next year? Steven Julian, UK I sometimes speak to him but I don’t know him well. It will be interesting to work with a new guy, and it’s the rst time I will work with a younger guy than me. I think he has the right attitude, the right mentality, and he will be a good force for the team, so hopefully we can keep moving the team forwards. F1R: Are you looking forward to being the senior guy? At least in terms of age? SP: Yeah, I was always the younger one but now it will be different. But Esteban is rated highly, he has the credentials and he can be really quick.
Do you enjoy playing computer games? Do you have a favourite? Tomasz Zwolinsku, Poland Yeah, I always play FIFA. I play it with my brother and my friends, we gamble on who is best and I’ve been winning the most money! F1R: Who do you play as? SP: Barcelona. But maybe they’re the best… What’s the story behind the picture of the pope in your car? Karol Piatek, Poland I have a lot of faith in him because when I was young my father took me to the Vatican and I touched his hand at the age of six. So I feel a really strong connection to him. How do you feel now Trump has been elected president of the USA? Dr Paul Cheung, UAE Well, we’ll see. Let’s see what he really does. I don’t fear anything. Mexico is a great country and we can do things by ourselves, so let’s see what happens in the near future when Trump starts to work as president. I worry what happens with my country. The States obviously have an impact on us, but I think we are a big enough country to look after ourselves.
Who is the toughest driver to pass and who is toughest to keep behind you? Tom Siegner, Canada They are all dif cult and all ght hard. Most dif cult are the youngest ones. When they do something unexpected, it can cause trouble. The toughest to keep behind is the fastest. The faster the car, the harder it is to keep it behind. Which one F1 racing moment will you always hold most dear to your heart? John Giordano, Canada That’s tough. My Monaco podium was really special last year. Being in a dif cult race and getting the podium was really something. F1R: Were you dreaming of winning when you came out after your nal stop in P3 on soft tyres? SP: Yeah, I was on the softs and Ricciardo and Lewis were battling really closely. Who knows what could have happened if they’d crashed…
How much money do you have? Antonio Hewitt, UK Nice question! I have more than I ever imagined to have, but I have less than you think I have. So it’s up to you to imagine what that is.
What do you think about the new rules and will they make the racing closer? Mark Scanion, Ireland I don’t think it’s the right way to go in terms of racing closer, because we’re going to have more downforce, so it’s going to be harder to follow the car in front – but we’ll see. I don’t want to be too negative at the moment.
Do you have any regrets about moving to McLaren when you did? Liam Higgs, UK Regrets? No. It put my career in a hard situation but without that move I wouldn’t be the driver I am today. I’m grateful to McLaren; it was a great chance to learn how they work and how different a top team is. So I’m happy with that. F1R: Would you go back there? SP: If they had a competitive car and could give me a chance to ght for a title, then de nitely.
“My Monaco podium was really special last year. Being in a difficult race and getting the podium was really something”