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…

F1 Racing - - CONTENTS - WORDS CHRIS MED­LAND PORTRAITS ANDY HONE/LAT

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 denitely 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 congu­ra­tion 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”

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