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An unforgettable weekend - Sergio Perez’s Mexican Grand Prix

03 Nov 2015

“Having the opportunity of driving in my home Grand Prix is something I never thought would happen. It will be one of the highlights of my career.”

Those were the words of Force India’s Sergio Perez just prior to the Mexican Grand Prix weekend, as F1 racing returned to his home country for the first time since 1992 - and a highlight it proved to be.

His eighth-place finish may on the surface have seemed a tad disappointing - especially after his podium in Russia just three weeks prior - but from the very start of FP1 it was clear that racing in Mexico City would be an unforgettable experience for ‘Checo’.

“I want to give all the Mexican fans who come to the track this week something to celebrate on Sunday,” he said after Friday practice, during which the packed stands - in particular the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez’s spectacular amphitheatre section - would erupt every time he passed.

The cheers grew louder still during qualifying, regularly drowning out the sound of the cars, as Perez made it through to Q3, edging out team mate Nico Hulkenberg for ninth place. Again the Guadalajara-born driver was clearly overwhelmed by the love from the crowds.

“I felt very privileged to be driving at home today and to feel so much support from the fans,” he commented. “They have given me lots of energy and I’m extremely motivated to give them something to celebrate this weekend - that’s the best way to repay them.”

Unfortunately Perez’s race didn’t work out quite as planned, his one-stop strategy unravelled by the late appearance of the safety car, and it was only his uncanny ability to manage his tyre wear that kept him in front of rivals on much fresher rubber.

“The race today was probably one of the most difficult of my career,” said Perez after a gruelling 71 laps. “To stay ahead of them and finish in eighth place is probably one of my best performances in Formula One.”

The crowd clearly agreed. In fact, from the reception Perez received on his slow-down lap, you would have thought he had won the race. In reality he had become only the second Mexican in history to score points on home soil.

Watch: Sergio's Sunday in Mexico

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“I am very lucky to have this huge support from my country and I will remember this weekend forever,” Perez added. “I think everybody has enjoyed the energy of the crowd and this must surely be one of the most popular races on the calendar now.”

Having witnessed the fervour that accompanied Formula One’s return, few would disagree - not least Perez’s compatriot Esteban Gutierrez, who will join him on the grid next season at Haas, as Mexico’s F1 renaissance continues.