Exclusive Sergio Perez Q&A: Im soaking up every moment 25 Feb 2011
It is fair to say that the Sauber team are pleased with their new driver Sergio Perez. Not just because he comes with backing from Mexican telecommunication giant Telmex, but because Perez seems to have natural flair. Talented and self confident, its clear the Mexican will be an excellent counterpart to new team mate - and 2010s stand-out rookie - Kamui Kobayashi. Perez himself is clearly relishing every second as he prepares for the season opener
Q: Sergio, so far you have completed six test days. How do you feel now youre a Formula One driver?
Sergio Perez: Life holds a lot of new things for me right now. Its basically all about being able adjust in a few days - to make the learning curve run north and to assimilate new processes almost in the time it takes to snap your fingers. It is a complex world and you need to develop a lot of reflexes to make them become second nature. You need to enhance your communication abilities too because good communication with the team in general, and especially to your engineers, is paramount in this business.
Q: What is the most important - and most challenging - element as you get started?
SP: It is the amount of everything - work, people in general, people working around my car, information that you have to get out of the car and give to your engineers, and the car itself. Gee, what you have to do in the cockpit! All those buttons and functions - thats quite a big step. But the most challenging part clearly is learning to understand the car - to get on top of my car, to know exactly how it works and then, of course, to get on top of the tyres. Thank God that is a process that all the others have to undergo as well.
Q: So in many ways you couldnt have chosen a better time to come into Formula One racing. All your colleagues on the grid - however long they have been in the sport - have to adjust to the new tyres as well, and to KERS and the moveable rear wing. Could that be to your advantage?
SP: Probably, yes, because in many fields everybody starts from zero. But then never underestimate experience. The ability to adjust to new situations is much easier when you know the general environment, whereas I have to learn the new bits and parts and the environment. What Ive understood so far is that you have to adapt quite fast and that is easier when you can fall back on an overall understanding.
Q: Youve come through Telmexs driver programme. Can you tell us a bit more about it?
SP: They took me on when I was 14 years old and from that very moment it was clear that the route was heading for Formula One. For so many years there was no Mexican driver on the grid so they thought its about time to change that fact. Weve made it and now we hope that we can achieve great things together in Formula One. Telmex was very committed to their young drivers, but one thing was always very clear - you had to deliver. You had a bad year - out you go! But that is a normal procedure. If you invest, you want to see results and see a future.
Q: Obviously the whole of Mexico will be watching your career. What are the expectations back home and will they allow you the time to grow?
SP: I think so. Theyve been waiting for so long to have a Mexican driver on the grid again so I am sure they will understand that I will need time to develop myself to eventually get to the top.
Q: Youre teamed up with Kamui Kobayashi, who was a rookie himself last season. How is that working for you? Do you think a more experienced team mate would make it easier for you?
SP: I dont think so. Kamui is fast enough, he has shown good performance last year and he has been involved in Formula One for some years as a test driver, so I think I will be able to learn from him.
Q: What are the teams dos and donts for your first year? Did they change after your gravel-trap exit in Jerez?
SP: No, they werent upset about Jerez at all. I get a huge amount of support and they encourage me to push to the limit because that is what we have to feel - the limit. I think it is especially important in testing that you push to the limit so you can really get to understand what you are doing and how the car is behaving in extreme situations. Sure, it is not great to crash because you lose parts of the programme, but I was told that it was okay. But believe me, I was upset about it myself, even though I was told that this is part of the learning process, of evaluating where the limit is.
Q: Everybody says that testing times are irrelevant, but have your good laps boosted your confidence?
SP: No not really. I am not really into times. What I want is to develop myself and develop the car and that makes us focus on ourselves - not looking at others. What I hope is that what we are doing is good enough for our targets.
Q: When you follow the big names on the track, can you learn from them?
SP: I think it is difficult when testing to learn from others because you never know exactly what they are up to that very moment. In racing this should be different because then everybody is following only one goal. What I do when I am not in the car is to walk around the track to look at certain key areas of the track and watch all the other guys passing by. I want to soak up every little bit (of information) there is to speed up my development in Formula One.
Q: Just to make it into Formula One racing must feel like a dream come true, but what are you dreaming for this season?
SP: It sure was a big dream come true for me because I was fighting a lot to get where I am now. The keyword for me is learning. As we approach the end of the season I want to be able to congratulate myself that Ive learnt a lot and that Ive scored all the points that came my way.
For Formula One and F1 team merchandise, click here.