By MARK LORENZANA
Mexican Formula 1 (F1) driver Sergio “Checo” Pérez took a podium finish in his home turf on Sunday, Oct. 30, finishing third at the 2022 Mexico City Grand Prix at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez — a day after qualifying fourth on the grid.
Perhaps it was déjà vu for Pérez, as well as the two other drivers who shared the podium with him: fellow Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen, who took pole position and eventually won the race, and second-place Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes. A year ago, in the 2021 Mexico City Grand Prix, Verstappen, Hamilton and Pérez likewise took first, second and third places, respectively.
Right before the race, Pérez sent a heartfelt message to his countrymen, which he posted on his Twitter account.
“I can’t imagine what the racetrack will be today. I can only assure you that I will leave everything on the track,” Checo tweeted.
Pérez was disappointed after the qualifying round, and said that he wished he could have done better than fourth place on the grid. An electrical problem with his car on Saturday, Oct. 29, had Checo driving “blind,” as he was unable to consult his car’s Drag Reduction Systems, or DRS.
“I’m upset because it’s a qualifying in which I wanted everything to be perfect,” said Pérez, after finishing fourth on the grid.
Sunday’s race was not perfect either — Checo figured in a bad pit stop — but his effort was enough for the Mexican driver to earn enough points to reclaim second place in the F1 driver’s standings, relegating Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc to a close third, with a total of 275 points to Checo’s 280 — at least for now. Verstappen already won this season’s World Drivers’ Championship — the second overall of his career — and has a total of 416 points. Likewise, this is Verstappen’s 14th win of the season, setting an F1 record of most wins in a single season.
“It’s a good podium finish. In front of this crowd I really wanted more, but third place is still a good day,” Pérez said, talking to the media after the race. “I gave it my best today at the start. I really pushed hard. Unfortunately, we had a bad stop, which prevented us from undercutting Lewis (Hamilton). Overtaking is so difficult, and as soon as I got behind him, it was so difficult to follow, so I had to stay in third.”