Luis Pérez-Sala is the first protagonist of a series of documentaries that under the title CHAMPIONS of HONOR want to pay tribute to the pioneers of Spanish sport
These documentaries have been made with the collaboration of the technology company HONOR
Luis Pérez-Sala (Barcelona, May 15, 1959) was the first Spanish driver to score points in modern Formula 1. The Marquis of Portago had done it before in 1956. On July 16, 1989, at the Silverstone circuit, Pérez-Sala, driving a modest Minardi, achieved the feat of finishing the British Grand Prix in sixth position. and thus add the only point of his exciting but short career in the World Cup. He was only able to compete in 32 races in the two seasons he was in Formula 1, but he has gone down in the history of Spanish motorsport as one of the pioneers in a discipline until then prohibited to the Spanish.
Fernando Alonso has won two World Championships and Carlos Sainz Jr. has already achieved two victories at the controls of a Ferrari. But in the 80s, what Pérez-Sala did was a feat. He himself acknowledges it: “Getting to Formula 1 was a dream. But not only reaching Formula 1. Just leaving Spain to compete was an achievement. Racing Formula 3 was a miracle.”
Luis Pérez-Sala always wanted to be a Formula 1 driver: “I remember playing with toy cars from a very young age. And ask the Three Wise Men for a kart that never arrived. It had always been my dream and to achieve it I can consider myself a very lucky person.” The Barcelona driver remembers his beginnings as almost epic: “When I started running, at the end of the 70s, Spain was still a very closed country. The highest category that could be raced was the Renault 5 Cup and there were only two circuits: Calafat and Jarama”. But his expertise opened the borders of Europe and the World: “In 1980 I won the Spanish Championship of the Renault 5 Cup and there I began to have the support of sponsors.”
RUN OUTSIDE SPAIN
He remembers his first competition outside of Spain: “The first time I went outside of Europe was in the Alfa Romeo Sprint Trophy, teaming up with Luis Villamil. Campsa helped us run Formula 3 and Formula 3,000, where I was the revelation driver in the first season. In 1987 I won runner-up with the Lola team.” And, from there, to fulfill his great dream of driving a Formula 1 car: “The Spanish company Lois supported me to make the leap to Formula 1 in the Minardi team together with Adrián Campos.”
Luis Pérez-Sala’s time in Formula 1 was shorter than he expected: “I would have liked to fight for the world championship. But it was not possible. I would have liked to spend more years in Formula 1 and fight for victories. But it was not possible either. After two years of contract, the alternatives they offered me were in lower teams and I preferred to accept other proposals outside of F-1. But I feel very proud of my two seasons in F-1.”
That epic race at Silverstone will always be remembered: “It was very hard. In the end I practically couldn’t see anything because my entire rearview mirror was full of oil from the other cars. I suffered a lot in the last laps. And when I ended up achieving sixth place it was a great satisfaction. “It was a success that had a lot of impact in Spain.”
TALENT WITHOUT A CAR
Manuel Gómez-Blanco, who was his manager at that time, assures that “if he had sat in a decent car he would have made many podiums. “He had enormous talent.” Villamil, his companion of a thousand battles and eternal friend, confesses that “he was very fast, but he lacked the will to continue in Formula 1.” His disciple and nephew, Dani Juncadella, thanks him for his support: “He has always instilled in me that you have to keep a cool head over the good and bad results.” And Sainz Jr. defines him as “a friend and a reference.”
Luis Pérez-Sala retired in 2008 after having participated in 381 races in different disciplines and having achieved 51 victories. The Barcelonan, at 64 years old, looks back and can only acknowledge that he feels privileged. “I have been able to live doing what I like. Step by step I have achieved my dream. “I feel very proud of my career as a pilot,” he recalls.
Talent and humility define the figure of Luis Pérez-Sala. A true CHAMPION of HONOR.