Sauber’s Sergio Perez: “Formula One is a completely different world”
Although he was unable to end the year as Formula 1’s best rookie, Sergio Perez impressed many as he raced for Sauber. The Mexican - who turns 22 in a fortnight’s time - shares his feelings over a season which included 14 World Championship points, a best result of seventh and the biggest crash of his career so far.
Are you happy with your rookie season?
Well, I’m happy in terms of the speed I had but I’m not happy in terms of results and points. Also, because of my accident I missed two races – Monaco and Canada – in which the car and the team performed very well. After I got back into the car it still took me a few more races until I was really a hundred percent again. But, regarding my overall performance in F1, I think I can be happy with my rookie season.
How did you get over the Monaco accident – physically and mentally?
Physically, I had to wait. This wasn’t easy, but it was important. When I got back into the car for free practice in Canada I realized the difficulties I had. I felt dizzy, so it was impossible to drive. Two weeks later in Valencia I felt a lot better and was able to drive. It was better again at Silverstone and at the Nürburgring, but it was only in Budapest that I felt I was completely over it. It had been a very heavy impact and I learnt it takes time to physically make sure you feel right after suffering from concussion. Mentally it was a shock too. It helped me a lot to go home to Mexico and it was important to do all that work to prepare for racing again.
What was the most difficult aspect of switching from GP2 to Formula 1?
Formula 1 is a completely different world. When you arrive there everything is new. The amount of people you work with, the level of the work and the amount of work. Every detail is important outside and inside the car. The media interest is huge and all together this also has an impact on your private life. It is impossible to pick just one single aspect. You have to consider it all as one.
What were your sporting highlights?
For me, my strongest performance was in Japan. I drove the second fastest lap of the race and was able to overtake a few cars. The team’s strategy worked very well. I was really happy at the end of that Grand Prix.
How much did you feel under pressure?
I have had a lot of pressure during the whole of my career, but in Formula 1 you step up to another level. In the winter everyone was saying I was a pay driver and it was good to prove them wrong. There were a lot of ups and downs during the season and the team’s support always helped me to remain confident.
What did you learn from 2011 for 2012?
A lot. I think it is important to be patient, to be focused and to always give one hundred percent. You need to improve constantly in every aspect and you must always be ready to adapt to situations. If circumstances require that you change your driving style, you just have to go and do it.
Where and how will you spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve?
It was a very busy year and it is not over yet. Before Christmas I will fly to Switzerland for some preparation work in the factory and then I will go back to Mexico. I want to spend some time with my family over Christmas, relax at the beach and then go somewhere else in Mexico to celebrate New Year’s Eve.