OK, take a guess how many Formula One racing events Sergio Perez, the 23-year-old driver often referred to as “The Mexican Wunderkind,” has won in the past three seasons?
Did you guess … one?
If so, your guess was a tad high.
The answer is none. Zip. Zero.
But that’s about to change. On Sunday, Perez will win the big race in Austin.
For starters, there’s an old axiom: Be wary of the angry athlete.
Well, Perez is more than angry. This young man is one enraged, furious, fuming driver. Earlier this week, Perez was notified by his bosses at McLaren racing team that he was being dumped after this season ends on Nov. 24 in Brazil. Perez did not hold back when talking publicly about his ouster. Getting fired by McLaren with just one year to prove his worth on this team has stung him deeply.
Fair or not, Perez has a slight reputation as a rather recklessly aggressive driver when in pursuit of victory. One competitor, Finland’s Kimi Raikkonen, once the world’s highest-paid race car driver, said Perez deserved to be “punched in the face” for an aggressive move Perez attempted in May at the Monaco Grand Prix.
So, on Sunday, if your money is on Perez to win the U.S. Grand Prix, you can be certain your driver will never be yelling out to any competitor, “No, please, you go first; you have the right of way…”
Perez will be pushing a pedal—and don’t count on that pedal being his brake.
He’ll be flooring it.
The word on the street is Lotus, Force India and Sauber are each looking to add a new driver to their stables. Perez needs a job, and a win in Austin would be an eye-catcher when Perez eventually gets around to typing up his resume.
Of course Perez has plenty of talent. He finished fifth in the Indian Grand Prix on Oct. 27. While that represents his best 2013 performance, The Mexican Wunderkind had two second-place finishes in 2012.
Sure the obvious pick to win in Austin is Germany’s Sebastian Vettel who has won an astonishing seven races in a row. A win on Sunday would put Vettel in the history books as the first Formula One driver to earn eight victories in a row. Vettel has made it clear with his driving that he’d like to earn that spot in the history books: Vettel posted the fastest time in the practice sessions held Thursday and Friday.
But Vettel won’t have the home crowd advantage. With no American driver in the race, Perez figures to have the loudest rooting section behind him; a large crowd of Mexicans will be cheering on their native son.
So, sorry Sebastian Vettel, Sergio Perez takes the checkered flag.
Those history books will stay closed.
Allan Mandell is sports editor of the Killeen Daily Herald. He can be reached at 254-501-7566.