Formula 1 driver Perez makes special request to home fans

The Mexican is placed second in championship already clinched by Verstappen

By Web Desk
October 27, 2023
Verstappen (L) has won 15 of 18 races so far this season. - AFP

Sergio Perez has urged his Mexican fans to show respect to his Formula One rivals and Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen in order to send a positive message to the world at his home grand prix.

The Mexican, who is placed second in championship already clinched by Verstappen for the third year running, emphasised the slogan of a local #racepect campaign in saying what happened on track must stay on track.

"I think it's important that we give this message because I think media likes to create these sort of driver rivalries outside the track," he told reporters at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on Thursday.

"We are a great sport, a great example for a lot of young generations and we should just be focused on the sport side.

"Whatever happens on track should always stay there and that's the best message we as a country want to give to the rest of the world."

Verstappen has won 15 of 18 races so far this season, wrapping up his third drivers' title in Japan last month, while Perez has lost his way.

Although he has a contract for 2024 there has been continued speculation about his future with Red Bull and what might happen if he fails to secure second place in the championship.

Verstappen was booed after winning in Texas last weekend, with many in the crowd supporting Perez or Mercedes' seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton, Verstappen's big title foe in 2021.

The Dutch driver told reporters separately he had had no problems so far.

"Checo (Perez) and I have got on very well, I don't think there is a rivalry. Of course as a driver I always try to be first or faster, but we have a lot of respect for each other and for our performances," Verstappen said.

"Supporting your favourite driver is fine, but you also have to respect the competition.

"This is not only in our sports, it's a general problem in a lot of them that needs to be looked at and it's good to raise awareness of it."

Verstappen has won four of the last five Mexican Grands Prix while the country is still waiting for its first home winner. Perez has so far managed no better than third.

Red Bull's Austrian motorsport consultant Helmut Marko riled Mexicans earlier in the year when he blamed Perez's patchy form on his ethnicity and referred to the driver as South American.

Mexican Grand Prix organisers condemned the comments at the time and called for "a more respectful and united Formula One community, encouraging healthy competition both on and off the track."

— Additional input from Reuters