The 21-year-old Mexican has impressed greatly in his maiden season this year, starting from a super drive into the points at his debut race in Australia, even if Sauber were later disqualified on a technicality. He is also leading his more experienced team-mate Kamui Kobayashi 6-4 on qualifying performances and has generally driven with maturity and assurance in the races.
Perez, like Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg before him, has not chosen any races in which he has competed. Instead, he has opted to select some of the most exciting races of F1’s recent history. The Mexican’s choices are as follows, in his order of preference:
1) Brazil 2008
The race when the championship battle between McLaren‘s Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari‘s Felipe Massa went to the last corner of the last race, with Hamilton taking the fifth place he needed to win the title. Perez says: “I remember very well how exciting it was to see the outcome of the race, when Hamilton won literally in the last seconds the championship.”
When Ferrari lost the world championship for Fernando Alonso following a terrible tactical error, with Sebastian Vettel winning the race and title for Red Bull. Perez says he chose this race because it was another “thrilling” finale to the championship.
3) Brazil 2007
Another title-deciding race, this one turning on a disastrous afternoon for Hamilton, who watched the title slip through his fingers after a mistake on the first lap. The Englishman ran wide and then a gearbox glitch dropped him to the back of the field. He recovered to finish seventh but lost the title by a single point to Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, who made up a 17-point deficit – then nearly two wins – in the final two races.
4) Brazil 2001
A typical race at Sao Paulo’s Interlagos circuit, featuring rain showers, non-stop action and lots of overtaking. It was won by McLaren’s David Coulthard, who completed an excellent overtaking manoeuvre on Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher.
But the race is remembered for another passing move on the German, by Juan Pablo Montoya, who was driving in only his third grand prix. It was the manoeuvre that announced Montoya’s arrival as a major – if mercurial – talent, lunging from distance in his Williams to pass Schumacher, who was not used to being dealt with in that way. “I liked it a lot when Montoya overtook Schumacher,” says Perez. “It was a great move!”
5) Belgium 1998
Perez was only eight when this infamous race took place but even he describes it as “unforgettable”. Held in pouring rain, there was a 13-car pile-up at the start, Michael Schumacher crashing out of the lead when running into the back of Coulthard’s car in appalling visibility. The German then marched down the pit lane to confront his rival because he thought the Scot had taken him out deliberately.
In the end, Jordan secured its first win, achieved in controversial style when Eddie Jordan ordered Ralf Schumacher not to challenge team-mate Damon Hill for the win. But it was a race that had everything. And for that reason – and because it is the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend – we have embedded highlights of the race below. There are also are short and extended highlights of last season’s thrilling race at Spa, won brilliantly by Hamilton.
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The classic races will be available to watch on the red button on BBC interactive television in the UK as follows:
They will be available on satellite and cable from 1500 BST on Wednesday 24 August until 0855 on Friday 26 August.
On Freeview, they will be available from 1030-1330 on Friday 26 August, when they will also be repeated on satellite and cable.