Sergio Perez makes discrimination claim, says he doesn’t want Max Verstappen ‘gift’

Sergio Pérez claimed his first-ever podium at his home race last season, where he finished third.

Sergio Pérez heads into his home Grand Prix this weekend looking to build on his first ever rostrum at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez Circuit last year, where his P3 was met by incredible celebrations.

The Mexican driver comes into the Mexican Grand Prix on the back of finishing fourth at the United States Grand Prix, where he drove the entirety of the race with front-wing damage following an opening lap clash with Valtteri Bottas.

Pérez didn’t quite have the pace to challenge for a podium as a result, but nevertheless was in a position which secured Red Bull their first Constructors’ Championship since 2013, also with the help of Max Verstappen claiming his 13th win of the year.

The result did see Leclerc sneak back into second, though, in the Drivers’ Championship, but by a tantalisingly slim two points.

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This weekend could be a struggle for Ferrari and their unreliable power unit, given that the air at this weekend’s venue is incredibly thin, due to the circuit being situated 2,200 metres above sea-level.

A home victory for Pérez would perhaps see the wildest celebrations ever seen, given the party atmosphere that is always generated by the Mexican fans.

Some have questioned if Verstappen will give Pérez the win should they be running first and second, given how emotional it would be for the Mexican; however, Pérez has no interest in this happening.

“I don’t need anyone to give me anything,” Pérez insisted ahead of the weekend.

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“I raced all my life without anyone giving me a gift.”

One would think that given the fact both titles are wrapped up, Red Bull might repay the favour to Pérez this weekend, given that he has allowed Verstappen past multiple times this year.

He’s also defended others when asked to by the Austrians, most notably from Lewis Hamilton at the 2021 season finale.

It’s resulted in fans giving the 32-year-old the nickname of ‘Minister of Defence’, something which he likes a lot, but would quite like to be tweaked.

“This nickname makes me laugh,” said Perez.

“It has become very famous everywhere, but I like Minister of Attack better because I like attacking more than defending.

“But it is also good to have defense,” he smiled.

Pérez has come to life in the latter stage of the season and has actually demonstrated the pace that made him highlighted as a title contender at the start of the season; however, his fight was lost after a challenging stint midway through the year.

The driver recently hinted that he has faced discrimination during his F1 career for being Mexican but explained ahead of this weekend that this isn’t the case.

Whilst he feels he hasn’t been specifically discriminated; he does think he’s criticised more than others who are based in Europe.

“I haven’t suffered discrimination in Formula 1 for being Latin American,” he insisted, “but if I have a good race it is not talked about as much as if I were a European driver. And if I have a bad race there is more talk about that.

“But I am lucky to be Mexican and it is part of the sport so I don’t like to complain about this.

“I was a little up and down in the middle of the season when I was fighting for the championship,” Perez admitted.

“With the improvements to the car I moved away a bit.

“But in general we have had good pace and we have been there.”

A “gift’ is as mentioned something Pérez isn’t wanting this weekend, although he would like to be prioritised over his team-mate this weekend, given what the Mexican has “done for him in the past”.

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There is no doubt that Verstappen owes Pérez multiple favours, with it set to be interesting to see how Red Bull will play out their tactics this weekend.

“I have no doubt that he will do what I have done for him in the past,” said Perez.

“But I will have to be perfect to win.”