Sergio Perez is relishing his first home race in Formula 1 this weekend as the Mexican Grand Prix prepares for its return.
F1 last raced at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez back in 1992, but after significant redevelopment, the track will host grand prix racing once again this Sunday (live on NBC from 2pm ET).
Perez has established himself as a national icon in Mexico thanks to his success in F1, leading Force India’s charge in 2015 by scoring the team’s third-ever podium in Russia earlier this month.
However, he is anticipating a new career high this weekend in Mexico when he finally races in front of a baying home crowd.
“The races in Russia and the United States have been an ideal way to prepare me for the return of my home race,” Perez said. “A podium finish and a strong fifth place have given me a lot of confidence ahead of the final part of the season. I think there is more to come from us and I’m really looking forward to the final few races.
“Having the opportunity of driving in my home grand prix is something I never thought would happen. It will be one of the highlights of my career and I have no doubt that this race will become a modern classic of Formula 1.
“Mexico has a lot of history in motorsport: the fans know the sport; they have a lot of enthusiasm and have been waiting a long time for Formula One to come back. I think everyone will have a great time.
“Racing in Mexico is, of course, very special for me, but at the same time I should not let this distract me from the fact that it is another race in which I will need to give 100% to bring home a good result. I am incredibly motivated to work hard with my team to have another race to celebrate.”
The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez has undergone some changes to facilitate F1’s return, including the removal of the iconic Peraltada corner towards the end of the lap.
However, it has been replaced by a new Forosol stadium section for some 30,000 fans that Perez believes will offer a unique atmosphere throughout the race weekend.
“I had the chance to drive a lap of the new track layout recently and it’s a fantastic circuit,” Perez said. “There are quite a few changes compared to the old layout when Formula 1 last raced there, but I don’t think the circuit has lost any of its character.
“The new section in the stadium is spectacular and it will be such an incredible emotion to drive through there for the first time when it’s full of fans.
“There are a lot of fast sections, but at the same time you have a combination of fast, slow and medium-speed corners that make for a very varied lap.”