NEW YORK — Formula 1 Racing has long been a thrilling sport, enjoyed largely by European and South Asian audiences. However, recently the craze has made its way into the Americas, as countries like Canada, the United States, Brazil, and more, are seeing massive spikes in viewership and F1 fan bases nationwide.
A less-talked about reason for this though, is the increasing number of Latino drivers who have entered into and seen notable success in the sport, specifically in the past decade.
With the 2023 Formula 1 season in full swing, this article takes a look at some of the top racers of Latin origin, as well as some potential up-and-comers in the lower levels of racing.
Sergio Pérez (11) – Red Bull Racing
Sergio Pérez is the definition of moving your way through the ranks. The 30-year-old, originally from Guadalajara, Mexico, has already made history in his sport — 1318 career points amassed in all of his races, which is the most points ever by a Mexican racer.
Though Pérez is of course often overshadowed in the media by his Red Bull partner-in-crime Max Verstappen, who sits atop the racing world at the moment, he is a flashy and controlled racer, who knows how to make the most of the situation he’s put in.
At the moment, Pérez has earned six (6) first-place finishes, and has a grip on second place (117 points) in F1’s 2023 Driver Standings, sitting only behind, of course, Verstappen. Ultimately, Pérez is an inspiration to his country, and Latinos worldwide, serving as the biggest reminder that anyone can make their way into this sport, so long as they work towards it.
Fernando Alonso (14) – Aston Martin
One of many Spaniards who have recently entered the sport and seen overwhelming success: Fernando Alonso, a staple in the Formula One racing scene, as it currently stands. Alonso has been a hot commodity ever since he entered the racing world in 2005 with Minardi.
— Formula 1 (@F1) June 4, 2023
The 41-year old Alonso, has raced for six different teams, including most recently Alpine for a short stint. He opted for a change in scenery, though, choosing to drive with Aston Martin for his 2023 campaign alongside teammate Lance Stroll. Although Alonso may not be in his prime, he is still clearly a dominant force, currently 3rd in this year’s drivers standings, and still making significant splashes.
Carlos Sainz (55) – Ferrari
To simply put it, Carlos Sainz has racing in his blood. His father, Carlos Sainz Sr., is widely regarded as a racing great, having won multiple World Rally championships, and thus, Sainz Jr. was destined for greatness from the beginning. Sainz’ career thus far has been largely successful, despite him having to fill big shoes time and time again: first with his father, then replacing longtime great Fernando Alonso at McLaren, and later replacing another star in Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari, for whom he currently drives.
He has seen plenty of success thus far, already with 15 podium finishes since entering in 2015, and currently in 6th (58 points) this year, but the Madrid product is not even close to his peak yet.
Brad Benavides (17) – PHM Racing
Though he has yet to reach the highest level of racing, Brad Benavides is slowly but surely on his way. Just at 21 years of age, the Guatemalan-Spanish-American racer is primed for a solid future. Benevides recently entered into the F2 ranks with PHM, moving up through F3–where he raced for Carlin Motorsport–quickly, despite his astonishingly young age.
It might take a few years, but expect to hear this man’s name one day alongside the best racers in the world.
Juan Manuel Correa (23) – Van Amersfoort
Juan Manuel Correa has a similar story to Benavides: just 23 years old, but already in the Formula 2 Racing ranks. Correa is in his first year of F2, after having had a solid year in F3, where he finished 13th, as well as racing a little in F2 (despite only finishing 27th).
Correa, thus far, is seeing distinct improvement on the next level, currently in 18th place in the F2 standings, and ready to continue to shine with Van Amersfoort as he moves his way up the rankings.
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