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Button: McLaren will bring out best in Perez 31 Jan 2013

(L to R): Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren and Sergio Perez (MEX).McLaren MP4-28 Launch, McLaren Technology Centre, Woking, England, 31 January 2013. (L to R): Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren and Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren with the new McLaren MP4-28. McLaren MP4-28 Launch, McLaren Technology Centre, Woking, England, 31 January 2013. Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren and Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren unveil the new McLaren MP4-28. McLaren MP4-28 Launch, McLaren Technology Centre, Woking, England, 31 January 2013. McLaren MP4-28 sidepod detail. McLaren MP4-28 Launch, McLaren Technology Centre, Woking, England, 31 January 2013.

Jenson Button was full of praise for new team mate Sergio Perez at the launch of McLaren’s 2013 car, the MP4-28, on Thursday, suggesting that the best is very much yet to come from the young Mexican driver.

Perez, widely known in the paddock as ‘Checo’, finished tenth in the 2012 standings for Sauber, scoring three podiums along the way, and though Button conceded he’d had some bad Grands Prix, he confessed his admiration for Perez’s race craft.

“I think for his consistency through the year it was very good, in terms of results, and the results that should have come but didn’t,” said Button, who at 33 is ten years Perez’s senior.

“In a very difficult race in Malaysia he had a fantastic result, finishing second and so close to victory, but also in Monza. I wasn’t in the race at the end so I was able to watch Checo come through the field and chase down Lewis (Hamilton) at the end. Two really, really good races - races that he should be very proud of.

“There’s a lot more we’ll see from Checo in the next few years - improvements. In working with McLaren, a team that’s achieved so much, it really does bring the best out in you.”

For his part, Perez insisted that in many ways he had benefitted more from his bad races in 2012 than from his headline-making results, giving him invaluable experience as he looks to step his F1 career up a gear with McLaren in 2013.

“It was an incredible year for me in terms of results,” he said. “I had many positive moments, but also many negative moments, which I learnt a lot from - especially from the negatives. I always say you can learn a lot more from the negative points than the positive, so I’ve learnt a lot from those, But they’re in the past now and I have a great season coming up.”

McLaren finished third in the 2012 constructors’ championship behind Red Bull and Ferrari, but Button predicted that Mercedes and Lotus could also be contenders for the new season. He also warned that, as happened last year, smaller teams could take unexpected wins.

“I think Mercedes have a good chance, but obviously they’re coming from a long way back in terms of where their car was last year,” he stated. “And Lotus - a few tweaks to that car and they could be there fighting for wins again. If they have the consistency they had last year they will be very competitive.

“And then you have the smaller teams that can also win races as we saw last year and be competitive and fight at the front. I think people will have learnt from the McLaren, from the Red Bull from the Ferrari, what really works on the car, and you’re going to see a lot of cars competitive at the first race.”

That race, the 2013 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, takes place on March 17. Before then Button and Perez will each get six days of testing in the MP4-28, spread over the three Spanish pre-season tests, the first of which begins at Jerez next week.

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