Sergio ‘Checo’ Pérez took to the wheel of a kart for the first time at the age of six but he was born into the world of motorsport. His father Antonio raced cars himself before managing the career of Indycar and sportscar driver Adrián Fernández.
By the age of nine, Sergio was already racing in shifter karts having won in the junior categories. At 14, he moved up into single-seater cars, competing in the US-based Skip Barber National Championship with the backing of Mexican business magnate Carlos Slim’s Escuderia Telmex.
In 2005 he moved to Europe to compete in Formula BMW, spending four months living in a restaurant owned by his team boss, then at the age of 17 he relocated to Oxford for the beginning of a two-year campaign in British Formula 3. He won the National Class (for older chassis) in 2007 and finished fourth in the International Class in 2008, graduating to the Formula 1 feeder series GP2 via the GP2 Asia Series. There he claimed a lights-to-flag victory in his very first race, in Bahrain.
In only his second year in GP2 Sergio won races at Monaco, Silverstone, Hockenheim, Spa-Francorchamps and Abu Dhabi, ultimately finishing runner-up to Pastor Maldonado. Both drivers then graduated to Formula 1, and in doing so Sergio became the first Mexican to compete in the world championship since Héctor Rebaque in 1981.
Sergio’s F1 debut in 2011 yielded a points finish for the Sauber team and he quickly established a reputation as a fierce competitor, even challenging Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari for the lead of the Malaysian Grand Prix in 2012 and running at the front at Monza.
As a McLaren driver in 2013, he once again drove with the combination of Latin flair and level-headedness that had characterised his earlier career. Despite driving a car that was not destined to win grands prix, Checo enjoyed several fantastic scraps with his team-mate Jenson Button, including an unforgettable paint-swapping dice at that year’s Bahrain Grand Prix.