Perez to replace Hamilton at McLaren in 2013
By Berthold Bouman
McLaren says goodbye to Lewis Hamilton who will join Mercedes in 2013, and welcomes Sergio Perez, who has signed a multi-year deal with the Woking-based outfit. Perez has made a name for himself in Formula One, and a move to a bigger team was just the next logical step in his career.
Perez said in a McLaren press release, “I’m thrilled and delighted to have become a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver. The McLaren name is one of the greatest in the history of Formula 1.
“For more than 40 years McLaren has been a team that every racing driver has aspired to drive for – I was brought up on the great stories of Ayrton Senna’s many world championship triumphs for McLaren – and I’m truly honoured that they’ve chosen me to partner Jenson [Button] from 2013 onwards.”
He thanked his current team, Sauber, “I’ve spent the 2012 season working very hard to demonstrate my potential, but I’ve always remained humble and focused. I am, and always will be, extremely grateful to Peter [Sauber] and everybody at the Sauber Formula 1 team for their belief in me, and for giving me the chance to race in Formula 1.
“In fact, they gave me the perfect opportunity to demonstrate what I can do — and I’m now equally grateful to Martin [Whitmarsh] and everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes for giving me the chance to take this next very big step in my career.”
He is already looking forward to 2013, “I’m under no illusion that it is indeed a very big step — as it would be for any driver — but I’m ready for it. So, while I’m still fully focused on doing my best for Sauber for the remainder of this season, I’m already massively looking forward to working with everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, and with Jenson, who’s someone I’ve long admired as a brilliant driver and a great champion.”
Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh was delighted to have the young Mexican driver in his team. “I’m delighted to welcome Sergio on board. His performances throughout 2012 have convinced us that he’s an extremely exciting prospect for the future.
“It was a string of giant-killing performances, a trio of podiums and a brilliant fastest lap in this year’s Monaco Grand Prix that showed us that Sergio lacks nothing in terms of speed and commitment. We’ve been monitoring his progress carefully for some months – and, now that he’s become part of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team, our task will be to refine and develop his abilities as his career progresses over the coming years.”
Jenson Button and Perez will be a great pair at McLaren, said Whitmarsh. “Uniting Sergio alongside Jenson will give us a very broad base of driver ability. Jenson is one of motorsport’s greatest ambassadors, and his unique blend of prodigious speed and canny race-craft makes him formidably well-armed to fight for victory on any grand prix circuit in the world. While Sergio is still developing his palette of skills, we’re convinced that he’s not only talented and quick, but also that he’s willing and eager to learn.”
And last but not least, he thanked Hamilton, and he wished him well for the future, “Finally, it’s entirely appropriate that I should take this opportunity to pass on our thanks to Lewis. He wrote a huge chapter of his life and career with us, and was, and always will be, a fine member of an exclusive club: the McLaren world champions’ club. It goes without saying that we all wish him well for the future, just as it also goes without saying that we hope and believe that Sergio, too, will become a member of that exclusive club before too long.”
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