Sergio Perez is certainly hoping there's no place like home, as the Mexican comes to his home grand prix trying to hold onto second in the drivers' table. Entering this weekend he has a 31-point advantage over Lewis Hamilton, a driver who has come alive in the past few races as Mercedes' latest upgrades have the Briton looking mighty racy of late.
A fourth place for Perez last time out -- at the United States Grand Prix -- was a return to form for the Red Bull Racing driver, who has had an off-kilter season by his and the team's standards. Regardless of what reassurances have been made to him through the media in regard to his status, who knows what has been said to him in the privacy of the paddock area, away from prying eyes and out of earshot.
In any case, Perez is likely feeling the pressure to deliver a 1-2 finish in the drivers' standings as well as put on a good showing in front of his home fans. Under contract through 2024, it is anyone's guess what Red Bull team principal Christian Horner may do should Perez stumble to the finish of the season enough for Hamilton to jump him in the standings. Would that push Horner to consider elevating Liam Lawson, who impressed at AlphaTauri in relief of Daniel Ricciardo, before the end of Perez's contract?
Perez is keeping his focus on the things he can do to affect the situation for the better, not what he can't.
"It's about making sure you put your energy into things you can control, things you can change," Perez told formula1.com. "It's a good challenge because you get to know yourself a lot more when you are in this sort of pressure — how you behave, how you handle it."
So is it good to be back home? Well, he's had podium finishes the past two seasons with Red Bull, finishing third in 2022 and 2021, but even that is of little solace when the driver who has finished ahead of him in second -- teammate Max Verstappen has won the past two races at Mexico -- is the man chasing him for second in the standings: Hamilton.
How to watch the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Mexico
- Date: Sunday, Oct. 29
- Location: 2.674-mile, 17-turn Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez; Mexico City, Mexico
- Time: 4 p.m. ET
- TV: ABC/ESPN+
- Stream: fubo (try for free)
What to watch for
The altitude of Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez (7,496 feet, the highest track F1 visits in 2023) means thinner air, so though the cars will be in their maximum downforce aero package, the thinner air results in faster speeds. It also impacts the physio of the drivers and the pit crew, giving new meaning to the term "racing that leaves you breathless." It also means the turbos will be straining to suck in as much air as possible. Air passages will be increased to allow this, as well as more air to the radiators for cooling. Again, more challenges for the engineers to deal with, and it will be interesting to see how Red Bull Racing guys solve their brake cooling issue that popped up at Circuit of the Americas.
Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez's signature feature is Turn 17, known as the Peraltada. Also known as the stadium section by the fans, drivers love this slightly banked corner because it feels as if the crowd is on top of them, and they often say they can hear the shouting of the fans over the roar of their engines as they power through. Peraltada is where the second of the two DRS zones start and brings the field back to one of the longest front straights on the F1 calendar, making for what are usually hold-your-breath drag races down to the track's first turn.
Last year's race saw Pirelli bring the C2 (hard), C3 (medium) and C4 (soft) compounds to the race, but this year will feature the C3 as the hard and the C5 as the soft tire, with the C4 medium being a prototype the manufacturer hopes will result in the teams trying different strategies, including perhaps opting for a two-stopper as opposed to the one-stop strategy that has previously found success at Mexico City.