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Whitmarsh: Perez 'no apprentice' at McLaren 03 Oct 2012

Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Singapore Grand Prix, Race, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Sunday, 23 September 2012 Martin Whitmarsh (GBR) McLaren Chief Executive Officer.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Singapore Grand Prix, Qualifying, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Saturday, 22 September 2012 Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber C31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Singapore Grand Prix, Race, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Sunday, 23 September 2012 Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber C31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 24 May 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd10, German Grand Prix, Preparations, Hockenheim, Germany, Thursday, 19 July 2012

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh sees no reason 2013 signing Sergio Perez cannot challenge for victories from the outset next season, despite his lack of experience compared to former world champion team mate Jenson Button.

McLaren have recruited Perez on a multi-year contract to replace the Mercedes-bound Lewis Hamilton, and after his three podium finishes for Sauber this year, Whitmarsh believes the Mexican is capable of quickly moving up to the top step, given the right equipment.

“I don’t see why - if we give him a good enough car - he can’t turn up at the first race in Australia vying for a win,” Whitmarsh told a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in. “I don’t think he will consider himself an apprentice. I think he will be a quick learner. Time will tell on this, but we’re optimistic and ambitious for him next year.”

Whitmarsh admitted McLaren had looked at a number of alternative drivers for their 2013 line-up, but had ultimately opted for Perez based on his combination of on-track talent and off-track persona.

“Obviously we considered a number of options,” he said. “I think Sergio is very young. If you look at what he did in Monaco, setting fastest lap - that was quite an attention-grabbing performance. And he’s obviously had some giant-killing podium race performances this year.

“So I think it’s really just watching him on the circuit and his attitude. He’s a very intelligent, humble individual and we think he’s got greater potential than he’s shown so far.”

In the meantime, prior to Perez’s arrival, Whitmarsh insisted that Hamilton and McLaren will remain united in their efforts to land the Briton a second drivers’ title and the team a ninth Formula One constructors’ crown.

“We’ve got six races to go, we’ve got a competitive car, two competitive race drivers and two championships that are still in our sight,” he added. “What we’re all hoping - Lewis and the team - is that we really focus now.

“We are committed to working as hard as we can to allow Lewis every opportunity to try and achieve a drivers’ world championship and at the same time I believe Lewis is totally committed to working hard with the team to contribute to our assault on the constructors’ championship.”

Hamilton is currently fourth in the driver standings, 52 points behind leader Fernando Alonso, while McLaren lie second in the constructors’ rankings, 36 points adrift of Red Bull.

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