The Mexican colours will ride back in to F1 next year after nearly three decades absence, with the lightening-quick Sergio Perez confirmed as Kamui Kobayashi’s teammate for the 2011 season.
Perez has spent 2010 in feeder-series GP2, and currently sits second in the standings to newly crowned champion Pastor Maldonado.
But despite Pastor having the title it’s young Perez who’s landed the F1 drive first, with Sauber choosing to give youth a chance in 2011. Sergio, who turns 21 in January, comes armed with big backing from Mexican telecom giants Telmex.
But he’s also very fast – anyone who saw his GP2 win at Monaco will believe that – and should be an exciting, fresh addition to the paddock.
In fact without a number of technical let-downs and incidences of bad luck Sergio would probably have pushed Pastor far hard for the championship.
“Although I’m very much aware that this is also a big challenge and responsibility, I’m happy to accept that and am proud to be representing my country in the highest category of motor racing,” said the Perez.
“I would like to thank Peter Sauber for the faith he’s shown in me and I’ll do everything I can to make the most of this wonderful opportunity.”
If you judged the two drivers on lower-formula achievements alone Perez is undoubtedly the superior of the two Sauber drivers. British F3 National Class champion in 2007, aged just 17, he then had a run at the main series title in ’08. He was one of four men still in the hunt for the championship at the last round, but ultimately finished bottom of that pile, with Jaime Alguersuari taking the honours. In 2009 he stepped up to GP2, and has this year shown himself to have bags of potential.
But Kobayashi has proven himself rather handy in 2010, performing so well as to get Pedro de la Rosa fired from the team. F1 clearly suits the Japanese racer, and alongside another hungry young charger the sparks could really fly.
Things could get very interesting at Sauber next year…