Why Sergio Perez’s new Red Bull contract is a big deal for North America

Elizabeth Blackstock
Sergio Perez greeting fans at the USGP in 2023

Sergio Perez greets his fans at the 2023 U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, TX.

He may not hail from the United States, but Sergio Perez is hugely popular with Latinx and Hispanic audiences all throughout North America. Red Bull Racing just guaranteed its ongoing success on the American continent by renewing Perez’s contract.

Red Bull Racing has shut the door on another silly season rumor by confirming that Mexican racer Sergio Perez will remain with the team for two more years. Believe it or not, that’s a great sign for the continued growth of Formula 1 in North America — including the United States.

Sergio Perez: A long-time fan favorite

If you attend a Formula 1 Grand Prix in the United States — or, honestly, even in Canada — you’ll see them: Latinx fans decked out in swaths of Perez regalia. At my first U.S. Grand Prix in 2014, I befriended a huge group of Perez fans who had traveled from all over Mexico to root for their hero in Austin, Texas, which was then the closest thing to a “home” race for the Mexican racer. 

These dedicated fans boasted Perez merchandise and massive Mexican flags; inexplicably, many of the men wore Perez-themed kilts. Having lined up beside them for an autograph session, I had a front-row seat for the ear-splitting cheers that erupted from the group when Perez emerged before the crowd. For several years, my trips to F1 races in Canada and the United States were loaded with fantastic run-ins with large groups of Perez’s dedicated fans.

Before the introduction of Netflix’s Drive to Survive and the exponential growth of the U.S. fanbase, Sergio Perez was often the only driver to command intense loyalty and admiration. Without those Perez fans holding down the fort, F1 likely wouldn’t have had strong enough legs in North America to support a single U.S.-based race, let alone three.

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According to 2023 data revealed by Bet MGM, Sergio Perez was the most searched-for driver on Google in many of the states that border Mexico: California, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.

In 2022, U.S. census data revealed that California, Texas, and Arizona are three of the five states boasting the largest numbers of Hispanic-identifying residents. In states like Texas, people of Hispanic origin are actually the largest demographic group.

When we think about American involvement in Formula 1, it can be easy to forget that the United States is as vast as it is diverse, and that the interests a Hispanic American in Arizona are likely massively different than those of a European-descended white person living in Maine. Those different interests also translate into very different interpretations of the motorsport disciplines we all know and love.

Perez’s popularity with the fans is mimicked in his popularity with sponsors; after developing a close friendship with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, Perez has signed top-dollar deals with Mexican companies like Telmex, Kavak, Claro, and Telcel. Those deals still hold value because Perez is still massively popular, and his sponsors can be confident that their investments will pay off.

Read next: Eight times Sergio Perez has been the perfect team-mate for Max Verstappen