Sergio Pérez is the driving force behind Formula One’s growing Latino fan base

A man holds a flag
Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez holds a Mexican flag as he celebrates winning third place of the Formula One Mexico Grand Prix auto race at the Hermanos Rodriguez racetrack in Mexico City.
(Fernando Llano / Associated Press)
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In the thrilling world of Formula One racing, one man’s journey to the pinnacle of motorsport has sparked passion among communities. Sergio “Checo” Pérez is the Mexican sensation who has become much more than a driver; he is the driving force behind the Latino F1 fan base.

Perez’s journey is a tale of triumph, inspiration and cultural celebration, captivating the hearts of countless fans across the United States, Latin American and beyond.

He was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and his passion for motorsport emerged at a young age. He made his Formula One debut with the Sauber Team in 2011, showcasing his potential by securing several impressive performances. Notably, he achieved his first podium finish at the 2012 Malaysian Grand Prix by placing second in the race.

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Rodrigo Nuñez has been an F1 enthusiast since 2006, closely following Pérez’s career. Nuñez mentioned that his most cherished “Checo” memory is that special podium finish in Malaysia, sharing that it stirred a sense of hope for the Mexican motorsport fandom.


“He was in an underpowered car, he was chasing down Fernando Alonso who was already a two-time world champion driving a Ferrari, and Checo was going to catch him, he was almost there,” he said. “It was so exciting because he was so young and Sauber was such a small team while Ferrari was this giant one so that moment filled me with so much hope.”

A group of fans cheer
Fans of Red Bull driver Sergio Perez of Mexico cheer after he finished in first place in the qualifying session of the Formula One Miami Grand Prix auto race.
(Rebecca Blackwell / Associated Press)

The Tapatío driver’s strong performances caught the attention of the recognizable McLaren team, and he was signed as one of their drivers for the 2013 season. Although McLaren struggled with a less competitive car that year, Pérez continued to demonstrate his skill and determination.

In 2014, after one season with McLaren, Pérez moved to Force India (later rebranded as Racing Point). This marked a turning point in his career, as he found a more stable pace and a car that suited his driving style. Over the years, Pérez secured multiple podium finishes and established himself as one of the best midfield drivers on the grid.

During the 2020 season, Pérez experienced a life-changing highlight in his career as he secured his first-ever Formula One race victory at the Sakhir Grand Prix. The race became historic with unexpected crashes, fires, driver replacements, and ultimately, Pérez’s first F1 victory.

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This night etched the hearts of Pérez’s fans as he raced his second-to-last event with Racing Point and was unsure of his 2021 seat. The achievement demonstrated his composure under pressure and further solidified his reputation as a top-notch driver. Emotions surged passionately, making fans like Adolfo Macedo feel as if they were the ones speeding down the Bahrain International Circuit.


“That emotion, honestly, it gave me goosebumps to see him cross the finish line in first place and make that comeback to win,” Macedo said. “For us fans, it was incredibly exciting, almost to the point of shouting. One gets so emotional, as if we were the ones in the car racing.”

People take a selfie with a cardboard cutout
People pose with a promotional cardboard cutout of Sergio “Checo” Perez, wearing a face mask, as a small group of fans gathers to celebrate his first Formula One win, at the Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain, near the Angel of Independence monument in Mexico City.
(Rebecca Blackwell / Associated Press)

His perseverance ultimately led to success. Although he currently holds the record for the longest wait to achieve his first Formula One victory, it all paid off as he secured a seat in 2021 with an elite team, Red Bull Racing. .

During his inaugural season at Red Bull, Pérez carried out a quality not commonly seen among F1 drivers — the ability to truly excel as a team player. He was instrumental in Max Verstappen’s maiden F1 championship title, holding back seven-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton for two laps during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

“That makes us proud,” Nuñez said. “For a lot of people, the number one driver is never going to play fair, but I think it gives a lot of us Latinos the pride to say, ‘Even at the top, Checo is pulling his weight to help his teammate and his team.’”

A driver adjusts his helmet
Red Bull driver Sergio Perez puts on his helmet prior a practice run of the Formula One Mexico Grand Prix at the Hermanos Rodriguez racetrack in Mexico City.
(Fernando Llano / Associated Press)

Pérez made history as the first Mexican to win the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix and also stood on the podium at his home race, setting a new milestone for Mexican drivers.

Beyond his racing achievements, Pérez’s cultural pride and representation have made him a beloved figure among Latino fans worldwide. His popularity has driven growth in the Latino fan base, with merchandise sales skyrocketing by a remarkable 305% in 2022 compared with sales in the previous year.

There is no denying that the sport of Formula One in itself has experienced a significant fan increase, particularly in the United States. This 2023 season, Formula One is having three races scheduled in America, and statistics show that Hispanics hold the highest level of interest in the country.

Two men walking
Sergio Perez, left, walks in the paddock with Puerto Rican artist Bad Bunny, right, before a Formula One Miami Grand Prix auto race at Miami International Autodrome.
(Lynne Sladky / Associated Press)

Mary Rosas has supported Pérez since 2018 and said she sees his representation of Mexico on the global stage as a catalyst for raising awareness of the sport among Mexicans in the U.S.

“He’s making an impact on all Latinos and making Formula One more popular,” she said. “There’s something about Checo and his attitude — he talks so well about his country and he doesn’t lose his roots.”


Pérez’s racing career is a testament to his dedication, resilience and exceptional racing skills. As he continues to compete at the highest level of motorsport, supporters share that he is an influential and inspirational figure.

A man holds a trophy
Sergio Perez celebrates after winning the Saudi Arabia Formula One Grand Prix.
(Hassan Ammar / Associated Press)

“We shut our mouth, and we work hard,” Pérez proudly told his team over the radio after his victory at the 2022 Singapore Grand Prix.

“This is the Mexican way.”

Xiomara Gerardo works as an editorial intern at a Spanish-language automotive site, Autoproyecto, covering motorsports such as Formula One and Indycar. She is also the founder and administrator of an F1 social media outlet, Grand Prix Journal.