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Sergio Perez Q&A: McLaren know how to handle young drivers 28 Jan 2013

Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren talks with the media. Sergio Perez Media Day, McLaren Technology Centre, Woking, England, 9 January 2013. Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren talks with the media. Sergio Perez Media Day, McLaren Technology Centre, Woking, England, 9 January 2013. Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren talks with the media. Sergio Perez Media Day, McLaren Technology Centre, Woking, England, 9 January 2013. (L to R): Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren and Martin Whitmarsh (GBR) McLaren Chief Executive Officer. Sergio Perez Media Day, McLaren Technology Centre, Woking, England, 9 January 2013. Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren talks with the media. Sergio Perez Media Day, McLaren Technology Centre, Woking, England, 9 January 2013.

January is always a busy time for a Formula One driver - if he’s not out training, he can usually be found at the factory, preparing for the upcoming season with his engineers. Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez is no exception, the Mexican having spent the majority of the New Year acclimatising to life at McLaren. We caught up with the 23-year old to talk training, tyres and why he thinks the Woking-based team will provide the perfect environment for him to prosper...

Q: Checo, it’s over two weeks since your first official day as a McLaren driver. Can you recall how it was when you visited the factory for the first time?
Sergio Perez:
It was sensational - a fantastic day. We all know the incredible photos from the factory and I can definitely say it is not ‘outside swank, inside rank’ as the saying goes! It was quite an experience, to know that I am their driver and that this will be my base from now on.

Q: Looking back to 2005 when you were racing in Formula BMW, would you have ever guessed back then that you would be a McLaren driver one day?
SP:
How could you guess something like that? Sure, you hope and pray that chances come your way and miracles do happen if you just work hard enough, but others do the same. My aim, of course, was to get into Formula One, but at that time it seemed light years away and there was absolutely no guarantee that I was ever going to make it. So looking back I have to confess that my career has gone fantastically. I made it happen: I came into Formula One with a good team - Sauber - and after two years to switch to the best team in the world… that makes me feel very honoured and proud.

Q: Coming from Formula BMW to McLaren would suggest that you have learned to live with pressure on your way up, but are you ready for the pressure to step up to another level this season?
SP:
Pressure will definitely raise a notch or two. Here I will be given a car that can win, so winning is what I am supposed to do. To be frank, if you are not able to deal with pressure in Formula One, then this is the wrong place for you. Go and look for something else.

Q: The first pre-season test of the year at Jerez is just around the corner. McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh promised that you would be ready - and fitter. Are you?
SP:
(Laughs) Ha, look at me, isn’t that visible? And regarding the 'ready' factor, I have been in the simulator and working my way through every department to get to know all the steps and procedures. Martin was right when he predicted that I would not see much of Mexico in the winter!

Q: Pirelli launched their new tyres last week with the promise of even more exciting racing in 2013. One of your strengths last year was how easy you were on the tyres, something that your new team mate Jenson Button is also renowned for. Will that help the team, to know that both drivers know how to treat the rubber?
SP:
Hopefully. But that is all speculation right now - nothing is certain when you haven’t been in the car and done a good deal of mileage. My guess is that it would, of course, help the team to have two drivers with quite similar driving styles. But how similar are we? We’ll find out in the next couple of weeks when we sit in the same car. Anything else would be comparing apples with oranges.

Q: You got the drive at McLaren after only two years in Formula One racing. Do you think two years is long enough to be ready for a top team?
SP:
I have good news for everybody: McLaren is a team that knows how to handle young drivers. Just think about my predecessor in the cockpit - Lewis Hamilton. He joined the team with no F1 experience at all and the team helped him to blossom into a winner and a champion. All I want is to get the same treatment.

Q: So what is your aim for 2013?
SP:
Winning.

McLaren launch their 2013 car at their UK factory in Woking on Thursday. For details of other 2013 car launches, click here.

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