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Sergio Perez

The lowdown on Sergio Perez

2017: 7th. Born: 26/1/1990.

This could be a pivotal year for Sergio Perez and Force India.

The Mexican’s intense battle with new team-mate Esteban Ocon fueled a second successive fourth-place finish in the 2017 constructors’ championship, but early evidence in pre-season testing suggested it could be difficult to maintain that lofty perch.

While Renault and McLaren both expected to make big improvements this season, Perez will also be under pressure to maintain his position as senior driver.

He finished seventh overall for the second year in a row, just one point short of his previous best tally of 101, but Ocon pushed him hard in his first full season on the grid.

Team bosses were forced to intervene after several on-track incidents, banning them from racing each other and then threatening suspensions for any further altercations.

“We both know we are not like best friends, but we both respect each other and we want to work well for the benefit of the team," Perez said at pre-season testing.

Known as “Checo”, he brought substantial financial backing when Force India gave him a lifeline after a miserable year at McLaren in 2013, where he struggled as Lewis Hamilton’s replacement.

He paid off Vijay Mallya’s confidence in him, showing some of the form that had earned him three podiums in his second season at Sauber, as he improved steadily – 10th overall, then ninth in 2015.

Perez claimed two podiums the following year and, though he couldn’t add to those third-placings last season, he finished in the top 10 for 17 of the 20 races as he added consistency to his undoubted pace.

A star in GP2, he graduated to F1 with Sauber in 2011 and scored points on his debut in Melbourne.

A massive accident at Monaco – in which he was fortunate to escape serious injury – disrupted his maiden season, but he was superb in his sophomore year, nearly winning in Malaysia, before adding third in Canada and another P2 in Italy.