Sauber signs Mexican Perez for 2011

Sergio Perez will become the first Mexican Formula 1 driver for three decades when he races for Sauber Motorsport next season.

Currently lying second in the GP2 Series, Perez (above) is a protégé of billionaire Carlos Slim and his Esuderia Telmex programme, which is promoting young Mexican racing talent.

It remains to be seen whether the Telmex arrangement with Sauber extends to a shareholding rather than just sponsorship.

Still only 20, Perez raced in Formula BMW Europe aged just 15, having said he was a month older than he really was to comply with the rules. He later competed in British F3, where he lost the 2008 title to Jaime Alguersuari.

He will get his first sample of F1 power when he takes part in the young driver tests in the week after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Fellow Telmex protégé and new GP3 champion Esteban Gutierrez - regarded by some as potentially the greater talent – is likely to be the team’s third driver.

The last Mexican to compete in a Grand Prix was Hector Rebaque with Brabham in 1981, although he made a one-off return in the Race of Champions two years later.

Kamui Kobayashi has been confirmed for the other Sauber seat, leaving German veteran Nick Heidfeld looking for a job for 2011.