Sergio “Checo” Pérez claimed victory for Red Bull in the Formula 1 race in Baku, Azerbaijan, on Sunday, equaling the two-win Mexican record held by Pedro Rodríguez.
Pérez benefited from an in-race retirement from his teammate Max Verstappen and a mistake from championship holder Lewis Hamilton to come in first in Baku.
The Guadalajara native’s first victory came in the penultimate race of last season in Sakhir, Bahrein, driving for Force India.
During pre-race qualifying on Friday, he confirmed he had overcome teething problems since his arrival at Red Bull at the beginning of the season. “I finally understand how to drive this car, how I need to drive it,” he said.
Although Pérez had two previous podiums in Azerbaijan, team boss Christian Horner said the performance exceeded expectations. “We knew he was good around here, but we didn’t know he was that good … he’s been quick all weekend … bang on the pace … his race pace was phenomenal,” he said.
Horner added that the win signals a bright future for the Mexican driver. “The way he was defending from Lewis [Hamilton] and controlling, that was a class act. To see him get that victory will be great for his confidence. It puts him up to third in the drivers’ championship now. He’s ahead of expectations,” he said.
Pedro Rodríguez was the first and only other Mexican to win a Grand Prix. He placed first in South Africa in 1967 and in Belgium in 1970, before meeting a tragic end at Nüremberg, Germany, in 1971.