Sauber sign Sergio Perez for 2011

2011 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

Mexican driver Sergio Perez will make his F1 debut for Sauber in 2011.

Perez will partner Kamui Kobayashi who has already be confirmed for next year.

Nick Heidfeld, who took Pedro de la Rosa’s place in the team at the previous round will not continue as a racing driver with the team beyond the end of this season.

Perez said:

Formula One is the dream of every young racing driver. And now this dream is about to come true for me. 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.

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.

Perez currently lies second in the GP2 championship behind Pastor Maldonado, who has already been crowned champion.

Sauber has also announced it will be sponsored by Mexican telecommunications giant Telmex as of next year.

Team principal Peter Sauber said:

Telmex has been involved in motor sport for a number of years already and supports drivers in various race series. Now they are making the key step up into the top category of motor racing, and we are happy and proud that they are taking this step with us. Telmex is an outstanding company and represents a strong partner for our team. We are looking forward to a fruitful partnership.

Sauber previously announced another Mexican driver, Esteban Gutierrez, as their 2011 test driver.

The last Mexican driver to start an F1 race was Hector Rebaque for Brabham in the 1981 Las Vegas Grand Prix.

Read more: 2011 F1 drivers and teams

Image © GP2 Media Service

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

100 comments on “Sauber sign Sergio Perez for 2011”

  1. Quick Nicks chances blasted then!

  2. Congrats to Perez, but this is surely a money decision. If I was Sauber I’d be a little bit worried about having two young aggressive drivers as my line up.

    1. Both of these drivers bring cash to crash :)

      1. Nowadrays all a driver needs to reach the F1 is nothing, but to be supported by a big company with a lot of money to spend. There is no classic battle anymore, all decision is taken based on how much money is possible to win.

        1. Am I mistaken or is Perez not “currently [lying] second in the GP2 championship”. Although money probably has a lot to do with this, he is still a good driver and should prove an interesting combination with Kobayashi.

          1. Here is some nice take on the type of person we have in Perez Sounds like he would get along pretty well with both Peter Sauber and his team mate Kobayashi.

    2. Yup, there’s a lot of money coming from Carlos Slim & Telmex

    3. But this is hardly a situation unknown to Sauber. Think back at the fast but crash-prone lineup of rookies Raikönnen and Massa some years back.

      I think this is pretty much a strategic desicion for the team future.

      1. Kimi and Massa were never teammates at Sauber. Kimi was there in 2001 and Massa arrived in 2002 when Kimi was racing in a Mclaren.

        1. I did not mean to say they were there at the same time, just that Sauber is used to giving fast but risky drivers a go.

    4. Kobayashi has proven himself to not be just another young aggressive driver though.

    5. They once had one driver with one not so good season behind him and one rookie which was considered a liability by many other teams. That season was their best ever…

  3. Nick’s F1 career is going to be over at the end of 2010 i’m afraid

    1. Nick can go to Force India.

      1. Well it depends on how impressive DiResta has been in all his tests. One thing is for sure.. that Luizzi has gotta go. Quick Nick qould be a great replacement

      2. Or get back with Mercedes?

        1. Brawn doesnt want to remove michael so i guess Merc isnt an option. Maybe FI.

        2. I still have a hunch Nick never really left Merc. GP.

          1. That hunch can only be proven next March, if MSC and ROS are suddenly more than 3 tenths quicker than the rest (yeah, right…)

  4. Glad to see Nick given a go at the end of the year but I’m up for new talent coming into the sport. Nick’s had his time and it will be nice to see a new driver in the field.

    Speaking of drivers who have had their time. Trulli should hurray up and leave soon too.

    1. i have a feeling Heidfeld, Liuzzi, and Trulli will all be gone next year.

      1. I think Trulli’s contract was for 2 or 3 seasons.. but I could be wrong.

        1. But there have been some paddock insiders saying Trulli will call it quits of his own account at the end of the year, freeing up space for someone else.

          1. I think you can just tell with Trulli that he has almost fallen out of love with F1, by watching his interviews. Compare him and Kovalainen on TV and Heikki is so much more energetic and up for the massive struggle that will be Lotus for the next few years. Jarno on the other hand looks a little weiry and worried. I think it would be a shame to lose such a passionate F1 driver (remember his little rant at Sutil at Brazil last year!).

            As for Sauber, I welcome two young drivers as they are going to bring some excitement, with some daring overtaking moves and silly mistakes. What did De la Rosa bring to the “spectacle” apart from watching a Damon Hill look alike on tv.

            Losing Heidfeld is dissapointing, but as much as I like him, he was never the most exciting of drivers, he would just work his way up the feild, taking advantage of peoples mistakes.

      2. Correct – Heidfeld was dropped in mid-2011, Liuzzi was dropped at the end of 2011, and Trulli was gone after the start of 2012 pre-season testing (but had only tested, not raced the 2012 car)

  5. Hmmm. Assuming that Schumacher is indeed at Mercedes next year, that only leaves the Renault seat and possibly one at Force India as “decent” choices for Nick.

    Good choice in signing Perez though. Cant help but feel that sponsership has something to do with this, but a good move none-the-less.

    1. Of course the sponsorship has something to do with it.
      Sauber don’t want to be driving around in plain white cars again next year…

      1. There’s nothing wrong with signing a 20-year-old who is about to finish second in his second year in GP2. If there would be more free seats someone might sign him without any sponsorship.
        So if you have some millions coming with him, you won’t say no, would you?

        1. Well Perez has tallent as well as a certain Carlos Slim’s billions, so best of luck to the fella.

  6. For once my prediction was actually right! I’ve been saying Telmex sponsorship for Sauber with Perez in a race seat and Guttierez as reserve driver for ages. There’s a first time for everything!

    I’m not a huge fan of Heidfeld, but I do feel slightly sorry for him. I think his F1 career is probably over for good. Webber showed last year that it is possible to have a late career surge. But Perez is a promising young driver (I rate him higher than Maldonado to be honest) and his sponsorship is needed to keep Sauber in business, which benefits Kobayashi as well. He’s no Alex Yoong in terms of talent, thats for sure.

    1. As much as I like seeing new blood in F1, I do feel sorry for the ‘what if’ drivers. Until last season, I thought the best drivers not to have won a race were Nick Heidfeld, Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg. Mark got his chance last season, and I’m sure Rosberg will get his chance too. But Nick never got that lucky despite giving superstar teammates a very hard time.

      Anyways, I would not see any good out of Nick joining a midfield team like Sauber. He deserves a good car, and if he cannot land any of the top teams, he should retire with his head held up high. I still hope Schumi throws in the towel to avoid further embarrassment, and consequently, Nick gets a decent drive.

  7. Yes, I’ve been waiting for this for nearly 2 years ever since Perez caught my eye in the 2008-09 GP2 Asia series.

  8. Put Nick in Renault.

  9. I’m not sure about this, I know it’s Sauber’s wont but doesn’t he need some experience in there? Perez must be bringing an awful lot of cash. Still, I hope he’s good enough to help push Sauber forward, an I hope Kamui’s quick enough to get another Scalp.

    1. But by next year, Kamui will be rookie off, with over 20 GPs under his belt ;-)

      By the way, i like your new “Jumping Force Adrian” gravatar.

      1. I’m not sure that 21 GP’s and around 10 tests is really enough to count as experienced. And don’t forget he crashed a lot of those.

        He’s hardly the new Raikkonen for all the excitement he causes.

        1. An thanks by the way, ever considered getting a Gravatar? Most prolific poster badge perhaps?

      2. Kobayashi will have a season and a bit of experience. That’s something, I do wonder who will develop the car though.

  10. wouldn’t Maldanado be a better choice? seeing as he won the gp2…

    1. nope… bad luck is the reason sergio didnt won

      1. so.. luck is the reason why Maldonado won 5 races in a row?

    2. Maldonado doesn’t come with Telmex kind of money. Pérez is also a lot younger and has more potential years in the sport.

    3. But Maldonado comes with Venezuelan money (I think that is quite a different thing from a team development point of view for Sauber).

    4. But Maldonado has been hanging around in GP2 for some time. Like Giorgio Pantano a few years ago, it was win or bust in 2010. Perez has spent considerably less time in the series and ran Maldonado close.

      Plus Perez comes with money.

      1. Nail. Head. Hit.
        The longer you take to win GP2 the less it is worth, hence why Pantano doesn’t have an F1 drive and why Maldonado is reasonably unlikely to get one…

        1. It would be pretty disappointing if Maldonado wouldn’t get a drive. Of course, he has been in GP2 for four years, but so were Petrov and Di Grassi. And comaparing him with Pantano is simply unfair. Before his rather long GP2 stint, Pantano already spent three years in F3000 and one year in F1. So he definetely had his chance, unlike Maldonado.

  11. Charles Carroll
    4th October 2010, 17:56

    Exciting pick for those of us in North America. Its great to see him get a chance to race, and with a fairly decent team. Kamui will certainly start out as the number one driver next year, but anything is possible.

  12. So we shall the return of blue Saubers next year then.

    1. Found this guy’s artwork for a ChampCar mod in rFactor:

      Looks kinda sweet, reminds me of the old Mild Seven Benetton.

      Also, I miss ChampCar :(

      1. Yeah that would look great on the sauber.

        I’m afraid it will be really be a plain white car with the blue telmex logos though :(

      2. That would look great, and set it apart from the rest of the grid as well, since all the other blue cars are pretty dark navy blue. Hope they do something like that and not just white with a blue Telmex logo.

  13. it makes the decision to get rid of Pedro even more questionable.

    I wonder if Heidfeld knew he would only be in the seat this year as well, because he seems to be a bit of a pawn in the whole thing.

    But anyway, that’s F1, I suppose, and its good to see Sauber’s future probably secured with the Telmex money.

    1. I’m guessing Heidfeld knew. He’s made statements that definitely gave the impression he was trying to use this as his audition for other teams for next year.

    2. I am pretty sure he knew and grabbed the opportunity or even pushed for it all the way since about Barcelona.

      In any case getting some Pirelli laps and now 5 races in 2010 on his CV will make him a lot better prospect for any possible drive next year (although I am not certain about his options) than without them.

      I always thought this would be only about
      1. Having better comparison for Kobayashi
      2. Same if not better hope of points scored with Nick instead of Pedro
      3. Possibly some experience from Nick and giving Pedro the opportunity to get a permanent job with Pirelli.

      1. Although Pedro’s now quoted as saying he’d rather race at the back of the grid than be a test driver. Maybe he’ll end up at HRT next year to help them develop their car?

  14. I wouldn’t be surprised if maldanado has some arrangement with a leading team as test driver next season

  15. Mexican driver Sergio Perez will make his F1 debut for Sauber in 2011.

    Sauber previously announced another Mexican driver, Esteban Gutierrez, as their 2011 test driver.

    Sauber has also announced it will be sponsored by Mexican telecommunications giant Telmex as of next year.

    Anyway, kinda makes the whole Heidfeld switch pointless doesn’t it.

    All the best to Perez for his dream coming true but I don’t see a future star here or in Maldonado either. I’m starting to wonder if having GP2 as a direct feeder is detrimental, all these youngsters come up and then because they weren’t yet ready for F1 the teams get bored with them and go for the next sponsor-rich youngster. Yet because they did well in GP2 they’re expected to move up straight away. I wish F2 was more relevant to F1 so we could train some more talent there instead of launching these kids into the deep end.

    1. I suppose the problem with the GP2 guys is that
      Most of them get only one year in those cars (although this is starting to slow down a bit). Not sure weather that is enough experience with finding the best setups and consistency.

      Especially while at the same time F1 teams need to take it slow with rookies take almost 2/3 of a season to get up to speed now and almost 2 years to really see what is in them. Therefore teams tend to go it slower with exchanging drivers for new ones without any milage and new spots open up far slower than the feeder series “delivers” fresh drivers.

      1. I don’t think it matters how long they spend in GP2 really, the problem is the scale of the jump to F1, as well as the ban on testing.

    2. I think the problem with GP2 young drivers is that you have to be really a out of series driver, and F1 is all about that I think this guy Perez has some chances of becoming a hard driver in the future.
      Also is about sponsorship but let me tell you that pilots like the Fernando Alonso wouldn’t be in Ferrari ifs not thanks to Santander and its money and there are a lot of examples…

      1. I totally disagree with your Alonso/Santander comment.

        Alonso is one of the absolute top drivers in F1. That’s why he’s in a Ferrari.

  16. So Nick have time to properly announce his retirement from the Sport. He should go like DC. A special livery Sauber for Abu Dhabi and all drivers attending his final media speech and autographs…etc.

  17. Poor Nick.
    Great move from Peter Sauber, sureally he´ll be a lot more confortable for next´s year F1 championship.
    I can´t blame Sauber for putting a young driver that has a big sponsor behinde him in his F1 cars, after all he rescued this team from not being in this year´s f1 championship.

  18. The way I see the 2011 driver market going now is as follows:

    – Trulli to retire, Petrov to move to Lotus from Renault as part of the engine deal.
    – di Resta in at Force India, Liuzzi out.
    – HRT to fold, unless somebody buys them out.
    – Heidfeld/Klien/Chandhok to get the Renault seat (sorry Kimi fans, I think he’s only talking to Renault to get a better deal from his WRC team). Heidfeld is a known quantity alongside Kubica, Klien impressed in Singapore, Chandhok has Ecclestone’s backing. This is a tough one to call but I think Klien has the best chances.
    – If HRT are bought out, I expect the same names as above to be in contention, along with Bruno Senna too. However, the line-up will probably not feature Senna and will instead feature Chandhok (with Ecclestone pouring some money in) and either Klien/Heidfeld as the experienced driver (whichever one misses out on the Renault seat.

    So, my 2011 line-up predictions is this:

    Red Bull: Vettel & Webber
    McLaren: Hamilton & Button
    Ferrari: Alonso & Massa
    Mercedes: Schumacher & Rosberg
    Renault: Kubica & Klien
    Force India: Sutil & di Resta
    Williams: Barrichello & Hulkenberg
    Sauber: Kobayashi & Perez
    Toro Rosso: Buemi & Alguersuari
    Lotus: Kovalainen & Petrov
    Virgin: Glock & di Grassi
    (HRT?): Heidfeld & Chandhok

    1. Klein in a Renault?!? Are you joking? I do not think the thought of hiring Klein has even crossed Boullier’s mind.

      Heidfeld would never goto HRT as well. Other than those two predictions I think everything else could happen.

      1. Nope I’m not joking, it’s a definite possibility. With the HRT musical chairs there’s every chance Klien can get a few more races under his belt in 2010 and prove himself worthy of that seat.

        Also, Heidfeld would not be going to HRT – if you read my post I suggest he would be going to the team which buys out HRT if they do indeed run out of money. Heidfeld wants a race seat, a new team needs an experienced driver (Glock and Kovalainen have come out of the experience looking quite good, so there’s no reason to think Heidfeld wouldn’t consider it).

        1. I think Nick at Sauber is a definite possibility.

          I think it all comes down to how much money the Russians put up for Petrov.

          I like Nick and Petrov, but would far rather see Kimi return.

          But I think Nick being around, and motivated means that if there is a change at Renault it will be Nick on the seat.

          I tend to agree with your opinion on Kimi. Much as I’d like to see him return to F1 motivated and on fire again.

    2. Renault: Kubica & Klien

      That is … well, interesting, I suppose.

  19. Well Sauber has done it again. This time he sacks Heidfeld in advance :)
    At least Heidfeld should have seen this one coming, he’s had 2 previous experiences.

    1. Heidfeld’s contract was only ever for the last five races of 2010. He was never guaranteed a seat in 2011.

  20. Interesting choice, Perez has lot’s of potential, but it’s clearly a money choice. Good to see Sauber signing a title sponsor though. Curse you BMW for screwing over Peter Sauber. Nick should not pull a DC and retire though, he would be a perfect fit at Renault. It would be great to have Kimi back, but with Renault putting all their eggs in the Kubica basket, an even bigger star would steal the attention. That said I’d love to see Nick with Kubica next year, in an improved Renault where he could maybe, finally sneak in that first win. It’s where he should have been all along, were he there now, Renault would surely be ahead of Mercedes in the standings. But Force India wouldn’t be bad either, give Liuzzi the boot. There are too many good drivers, for not enough good teams, and yet there are more good teams than ever before, such is the weird state of problems in F1 today!

    1. There are too many good drivers, for not enough good teams, and yet there are more good teams than ever before, such is the weird state of problems in F1 today!

      So true, but this is really a great problem as problems go. The fact that there are so many drivers trying to get into the sport right now was the main reason I was disappointed we won’t have a 13th team next year. It would have also been good to have a new team so that HRT has someone to race. I doubt they’ll be making the same leap forward next year as Lotus or even Virgin.

  21. puts all pieces in the right place, the Sauber timeline was like this:

    1: BMW gone and a horrible car and engine left,
    2: Key came in (and thanks to him Telmex bought themselves in, but it was kept secret),
    3: A press release said that Sauber had a proper budget for 2011, (but who?),
    4: Pedro left, Nick came in,
    5: And now this, I wonder why they swapped Nick for Pedro.

  22. If the 2011 Sauber is a decent car (better than this years!) then I have a hunch Perez will do well!

  23. Could it be they signed Nick just to get extra information for their next year’s car, then they “kick him out” and get money to implement what he told him!?

    1. my bad,:
      what he told THEM

    2. Heidfeld knew that he was signed for only 5 remaining races in 2010.

      I believe the word “kick him out” is not relevant when he already knew what he is expected to do, why sauber wants him for the remaining of 2010 season and how long his current contract with sauber.

      by the way; good move for sauber when they have 2 young and talented driver for next season.. kinda remind me when they have young raikonnen and Heidfeld way back in 2001 if i’m not wrong.

      so best of luck amigos!!!

  24. I’m very excited that we’ll have a North American on the grid again next year! Should help with the crowd at the first Austin GP too if that comes through.

    1. Of course, it would be better if Gutierrez/Rossi/Wickens all have great 2011 GP2 Seasons and find a way on the F1 grid in 2012. Having all 3 North American countries represented would be a huge morale boost for North American F1 fans.

  25. Good move for all parties involved. Sauber has a good brain trust and excellent infrastructure but lack funds to develop the car. This deal secures Saubers long term future. Kobayashi is going to have to work hard to keep his seat beyond next year. Perez looks like the real deal to me. Guiterrez has politics on his side. Tough luck for Heidfeld.

  26. I like this move specially since it introduces a new nationality in the grid. In order to expand the number of viewers, I think we need drivers from different countries. Right now there are 4 or 5 different countries which monopolize most of the drivers in the grid.

  27. Hi Everyone,

    There seems to be a lot of you asking for the old races. Well guess what ? I have them, ALL of them. 1978 to 2010 Every single race and qualifying session ever transmitted on British TV.

    Plus loads of F1 races from the 1930s to 1970s. They are mostly on VHS cassette and DVD. I put a transcoded high quality DVD version of them on a pair of 2000 gb usb hard drives.

    So if anyone would like a FREE complete collection of every single F1 race email me at

  28. I’m very curious to see the extent of the Telmex-Sauber arrangement. While it will be nice to see a new colour on the grid (of late it seems the only shade of blue that Formula 1 team know of id dark blue), the article does not state that Telmex has purchased naming rights. While I wouldn’t be surprised to see the car dominated by the Telmex name, all of these articles have been very vague about Telmex’s exact involvement.

  29. finally :D we have a 2 mexicans in F1, so long ago they started suporting racing in mexico and finally they got it

  30. As a Venezuelan, I am disappointed that this seat did not go to Pastor Maldonado. Oh well. Life goes on.

    1. Gaston, there are plenty of other seats available. For example, Jacques Villeneuve is said to be looking to buy a team, and popular rumour links him with Toro Rosso. If he does indeed buy the Faenza-based squad, Maldonado would be a very attractive driver because of his sponsorship endowment. Likewise, Hispania are believed to be up for sale, and they’re said to be working on building an actual car for 2011, so they could be a dark horse. Virgin are said to be looking to replace Lucas di Grassi, though Jerome d’Ambrosio is linked to the drive. And Jarno Trulli is rumoured to be retiring, possibly to make way for Vitaly Petrov, but even if Petrov stays at Renault and Trulli leaves, Pastor Maldonado could do a hell of a lot worse than to join Team Lotus.

  31. Very sad to hear that Nick wont be their in 2011, I thought he could have been a better option but I think this time it is more about money that Perez will bring for the team matters more to them more than a driver who could have develope their car a lot.

    Among all the team that have announced their 2011 line up I think this is by far the weakest team.

    1. Don’t forget – Sauber have a reputation as a finder of new talent. Weak they may be, but the other teams watch them with interest because they’re a midfield outfit and they’ve uncovered some very promising drivers in their time. Both Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen started with Sauber, and while Perez might be bringing cash into the team, the bad old days of pay drivers being playboys who fancied themselves Grand Prix drivers are truly past us. You have to have a basic level of talent to be able to qualify for a Superlicence, so don’t write Perez off totally just yet.

      1. I am not writing him off, Peter Sauber do find some raw talent but what I am telling that Nick isn’t that bad a driver, he had worked with the team before & with his experience the team could have build a better car.

  32. 1 .- Carlos Slim (Mexican): world’s richest man according Frobes

    2.- Esteban Gutierrez (Mexican) GP3 champion 2010- third driver for the Sauber team.

    3.- Sergio Pérez (Mexican) second place in GP2 championship 2010 – now official F1 driver.

    Question: Sauber will become a semi Mexican team?

    1. That makes one more “nationality oriented” team.(Ferrari: Latin; Mc Laren : English; Merc: German…) I doubt Kobayashi is a credible Mexican though.

      1. Force India with Chandok on board will become Team India.

      2. call kobayashi Juan Gonzales and no one would doubt wheter is mexican or not

  33. I believe nick must be in talks with some other teams,mainly Renault and Lotus. Its not all done and dusted for Nick. I still want him to win his coveted first win and also a decent run amongst the top of the championship runners for at least one season to justify immense talent he has. And also congrats to Sauber for choosing the young and exciting line up for the next season. All the best Nick for next year.

  34. nick was brought up only to test real kobayashi performance. i think this is the deal:

    nick comes in and puts kobayashi to a test (5 races are enough)

    perez joins next year, and gutierrez is probably set up for 2012, peter will then decide who (from those 3) will sticks with the team

    he will have prety good look at the situation because nick will value kobayashi, and obviously kobayashi will value perez

    i think gutierrez is a lock if he proves him self next year in gp2, he surely has talent.

  35. This is a guarantee of Sauber remaining in the sport.

    1. Yes I think that is positive about the deal.

  36. Might this pave the way a litte for the return of the Mexican GP?

    1. Anything that brings back the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is good news in my book. Not that I’d imagine they’d dare to use it in its 1992 form.

  37. Another new driver, I wonder if Nick Heidfeld will get a car for next year.

Comments are closed.