Sergio Perez Q&A: Target is to win 2013 title 01 Nov 2012
Some expressed surprise that McLaren have chosen a driver as inexperienced as Sauber's Sergio Perez to replace Lewis Hamilton - probably the same people who were surprised when Hamiltons McLaren race seat was announced all those years ago. Speaking to the media in Abu Dhabi on Friday, Perez has no doubts. His McLaren drive is an opportunity he intends to make the very most of - from the very first race of 2013
Q: Sergio, there is apparently a big future ahead of you with McLaren. What was your first impulse when you learned the news?
Sergio Perez: I jumped on my bed! (laughs) I mean isnt it every young drivers dream to be picked by one of the iconic teams? And isnt it natural that the moment you know about it you are over the moon? (laughs) It is the chance of my life - and now I have to grasp that chance with both hands.
Q: There are a bunch of young and talented drivers out there now - you, Pastor Maldonado and Nico Hulkenberg... Do you think - with the cars that you will be driving next year - that one of you has the chance to fight for the title? Or is there still a gap in experience between your younger generation and the old guys?
SP: First of all, the important step for a young driver is to get into a top team to be able to show if you are able to win. This question will be answered for me next season. In 2013 I have the chance to be with the best team in Formula One and my target is to win the championship - next year.
Q: Isnt it frustrating that since the McLaren deal was announced you havent scored a point? At a time when everybody is watching you closely and asking if McLaren have made the right move
SP: Ah, this is only coincidence. I am fully focused and if the result hasnt come it is because there is a reason for that. I am giving my best, but it is normal that people make up stories that I am not doing very well anymore because of the McLaren deal. This is not true and it is not right. It doesnt bother me personally, but it bothers me for my team. My team is fighting so much, my engineers, and if they read this it makes me sad. But they know that I am giving my maximum to score points for my team - and I will keep on doing this until my very last lap with Sauber!
Q: Have you had the chance to have a chat with your new team mate Jenson Button?
SP: Yes, I have chats with him - and his dad. They are very nice.
Q: Has Jenson given you advice about the dos and donts at McLaren?
SP: He told me that I am coming to a great team and that I am very lucky to be part of them. He is looking forward to working together with me. But at the end of the day we didnt have enough time for serious socializing - but that will come.
Q: Theres an age gap of 10 years between you and Jenson, so hes almost another generation of driver. Will he be a sort of role model, rather than the number-one driver?
SP: Well, I think if you are in Formula One that long it means something. He is a fast team mate - he is one of the best drivers in the world and it is great to have a former champion at your side. He is a proven driver and I am not a proven driver yet, so hopefully I can learn a lot from him. The target, of course, is to beat him. (laughs) How it will really be, time will tell.
Q: He said that when he joined McLaren he asked the question, is this Lewis Hamiltons team? Have you done something similar - to understand the pecking order?
SP: No, I have not. The first time that I spoke with (McLaren team principal) Martin Whitmarsh he told me that this is a team for both drivers - that there is equal opportunity and that I will have exactly the same chances as the other driver. And I fully trust Martin.
Q: You are stepping into some pretty big shoes, replacing Lewis Hamilton. Is that adding pressure?
SP: Let me put it this way: I rate Lewis very highly - he is one of the fastest guys in Formula One right now - and of course it will not be easy trying to walk in those shoes and think that they fit right away. But I am confident and I will do anything to make those shoes fit as soon as possible, because it is the chance I always hoped I would have. I will do my best and I think that I will be very good then.
Q: What are you bringing to the team that he hasnt brought?
SP: That is not for me to answer. What I can say is that I am a hungry man - hungry for victory - and I want to win - a lot! (laughs)
Q: What do you expect from the upcoming Austin race? Huge numbers of Mexican fans?
SP: Yes, Austin is only two and a half hours away from Mexico and especially now with the moments I am having they are really looking forward to the race, hoping that I have a very long career in Formula One.
Q: Given your rise through the ranks, do you think that there will be a Mexican Grand Prix in the near future?
SP: Yes, I do believe that.
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