“Chicken tikka,” grins Sergio Perez while shaking hands with some Indian fans.
The disappointment at the Indian Grand Prix — Perez had overcome illness to grab the eighth position on the grid but was forced to retire after 20 laps with tyre problems — notwithstanding, the 22-year-old Mexican, who is replacing a driver of the calibre of Lewis Hamilton at McLaren next year, has all the qualities of a future Formula One star.
He is young, ambitious, highly promising, friendly and, most importantly, has the X-factor.
In only his second year in Formula One, Perez attracts attention when he walks through the paddock area. Clad in a stylish customised jacket with his name boldly imprinted on it, Perez has the striking presence of a champion.
A former British Formula Three champion (2007) and the second-placed driver in the 2010 GP2 Series, Perez came into the limelight this year in Formula One, with three podium finishes for Sauber.
Perez had collected 14 points to end up 16th overall in the drivers’ standings in his first year in F1.
This season he showed a huge improvement to gather 66 points for the 10th slot after 17 races.
He attributes his success this season to two reasons.
“First of all, experience. Secondly, the car is more competitive this season. We are fast this year,” he says.
Perez says he is determined to help Sauber achieve better results in future races this season.
“We are always looking forward…The main target is to beat Mercedes. As you know I am leaving (Sauber) at the end of the season, I hope I can bring the team forward,” he said.
Perez assures that he is concentrating on the job at hand despite booking a seat with McLaren.
“I am looking forward to it, but, right now, I am focusing on this season,” he says.
It is not for nothing that McLaren’s top bosses repose so much faith in Perez.