Mexican Formula 1 racer Sergio “Checo” Pérez. Photo: Google


Let’s all give Mexican Formula 1 (F1) driver Sergio “Checo” Pérez a break. And by “break,” I don’t just mean the current F1 summer break that’s driving (pun definitely intended) all those die-hard motorsports fans crazy right now.

A short digression, for those who are not F1 die-hards: What exactly is the F1 summer break? It’s the period between the final race in July — for this season it was the Hungarian Grand Prix, which concluded on July 31 — until the first race back this month, which will be the Belgian Grand Prix on August 26 to 28. In a nutshell: For the F1 teams, the summer break means they have no races or official tests to attend or prepare for, and there is also a mandatory team factory shutdown where work on cars is severally restricted.

For the drivers, it’s a time to relax.

For a lot of motorsports analysts and fans, it’s quite the opposite.

Sports fans abhor a vacuum — take it from me. When the National Basketball Association (NBA) ended its season two months ago, what did I do? I read all the news about NBA free agency: which players are headed to their new teams, how players are preparing for the upcoming NBA season, which celebrity basketball leagues in the United States are inviting NBA pros, etc.

When the F1 summer break hit, I did the same: I read all I could get my hands on about the sport. And so there had to be the inevitable “Drivers Power Rankings” for the F1 summer break, and when the official F1 website released its list recently, I wasn’t surprised when Checo was only ranked seventh, tied with Spaniard Carlos Sainz, who drives for Ferrari.

“Sergio Pérez is the driver level with Sainz in the Power Rankings, the Red Bull racer having put in some brilliant performances this season with a strong run from Bahrain to Monaco, where he took his first and only 2022 win so far. The Mexican driver retired in Canada and Austria to bookend his British GP podium, but recent results in France and Hungary have seen Perez finish outside of the top three,” the article read.

Naturally, the story was picked up by the sports pages of local newspapers, chief among them Mexican daily newspaper Reforma, which ran an article with the headline “Checo Pérez’s Results Do Not Make Experts Fall in Love with Him.”

Sure, Mexican motorsports fans aren’t happy with Checo’s recent showing, but for me there’s a lot to be optimistic about as well. For one, Pérez is still currently third place on the 2022 F1 Driver Standings, behind teammate Max Verstappen, and the other Ferrari driver, Charles Leclerc. Second, the long break might just give Checo a much-needed breather for him to come out stronger and perform better — barring any technical issues with his Red Bull car, of course. And third, even Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has been happy with Pérez’s performance so far.

“Checo’s been much closer in qualifying than during last year. The pole position in Jeddah was an outstanding lap, and his victory in Monaco, the 1-2 finishes that we’ve achieved in Spain and Azerbaijan, his race at Silverstone and the wheel-to-wheel racing. By and large, he’s had a very strong first half of the campaign,” Horner said. “I think, this year, the team feels much more like home for him, compared to when he was the new boy last year. He’s adapting well to that. He’s had a bit of bad luck on a couple of occasions, but that always evens itself out over the course of a season. I think Checo’s made a great step forward.”

I know Mexican F1 fans want Checo to hit the ground running when the races resume, to make up for lost ground, but like I said at the beginning of this column, the guy deserves a break.

Let’s cut Checo some slack.

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