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Sergio Perez Q&A: Big potential at Force India 13 Dec 2013

Sergio Perez (MEX) is announced as a Force India driver.
Sahara Force India Press Conference, Belgrave Square, London, Thursday, 12 December 2013 Sergio Perez (MEX) is announced as a Force India driver with Dr. Vijay Mallya (IND) Force India Formula One Team Owner and and Minister Miguel Angel Vilchis (MEX) Consul of Mexico.
Sahara Force India Press Conference, Belgrave Square, London, Thursday, 12 December 2013 Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren MP4-28 leads Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM06 and Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW35.
Formula One World Championship, Rd19, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, 24 November 2013 Sergio Perez (MEX) is announced as a Force India driver.
Sahara Force India Press Conference, Belgrave Square, London, Thursday, 12 December 2013 Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren MP4-28 leads Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India VJM06.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Race Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Sunday, 26 May 2013 Sergio Perez (MEX) is announced as a Force India driver.
Sahara Force India Press Conference, Belgrave Square, London, Thursday, 12 December 2013 Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren MP4-28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd19, Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, 23 November 2013 Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren with his trainer Antti Vierula (FIN) and race engineer Mark Temple (GBR) on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, United States Grand Prix, Race, Austin, Texas, USA, Sunday, 17 November 2013 Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren MP4-28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 1 November 2013 Sergio Perez (MEX) is announced as a Force India driver with Dr. Vijay Mallya (IND) Force India Formula One Team Owner.
Sahara Force India Press Conference, Belgrave Square, London, Thursday, 12 December 2013

For a while it looked like Sergio Perez might lose his place on the 2014 grid after McLaren opted not to retain his services for next year. But the 23-year-old Mexican was soon snapped up by Force India, establishing, with Nico Hulkenberg alongside him, one of the most exciting driver pairings in Formula One racing. After being officially unveiled in his new team kit, Perez spoke to reporters about his move…

Q: How does it feel to be announced as a Force India driver for 2014?
Sergio Perez:
I’m very happy to finally announce my plans for next year, for the future. I want to thank Vijay (Mallya) for the trust he’s put in me since the first time we met. He always told me that he was interested and he was straightforward - that made the negotiations a lot easier. I’m very happy to join the Sahara Force India team and I’m really looking forward to 2014. I think (with Nico Hulkenberg) we have a very strong driver line-up for next year, and definitely one of the hungriest ones! We both have a lot to prove and we’re both very young. I’m looking forward to a very big challenge.

Q: What was it that convinced you that Force India was the right place to be in 2014?
SP:
I’ve been watching the team - they’ve been very consistent in the midfield, probably the most consistent in the last few years. I believe that right now, with the change in regulations, we can be a very strong team and we can move forward. I think there is a great opportunity for the whole team, not only myself, to put everything together in place to move forward and start fighting the big teams. I think there is big potential. Before the tyres were changed this year the team showed great pace, so I’m very happy to join the team and think we have a strong season ahead of us. We have a lot of work to do, but I’m really looking forward to meeting the rest of the team this afternoon.

Q: Vijay is very passionate about Formula One racing - what has he said to you and how well do you get on with one another?
SP:
We met a few times before (I signed), but now he’s my boss! We get on quite well. So far it’s been good and, as I’ve said, I’m very excited to work with Vijay and the rest of the team and I’m glad we all share this passion.

Q: You’ve already spoken a bit about your new team mate, Nico Hulkenberg, saying that you’re a ‘hungry’ combination of drivers. Can you be a winning combination of drivers too?
SP:
That has to be the target. We know our limitations, but the team has very high targets for next year and I, together with Nico, am part of those. I’m looking forward to working really hard to bring the team as high up as possible. The whole combination - the team and the drivers - are very hungry. We have a lot to prove. It could be a great year for the team.

Q: Can you explain the timescale of how the deal came together? When did you start talking and how quickly did the deal get finalised?
SP:
Well, it’s no secret that the decision from McLaren came quite late. So as soon as it came, I think it was around the time of (the United States Grand Prix in) Austin, we started talking to Force India - it was always my first option. Luckily I succeeded on this one and I’m happy to join the team. I also found out that Nico was coming to the team as well so that was an extra motivation to join. Nico is one of the best drivers out there so I definitely want to partner a driver like him. So everything came into place, the team was always very straightforward to me and to my management. It just took a couple of weeks to get everything in place.

Q: Is there any bitterness about the way things ended at McLaren?
SP:
Well, for me there is no point looking back. I want to look forward and then to be able to say after one year that it was the best thing that happened to me, leaving McLaren to join Force India. It’s a great opportunity for my career and I’m looking forwards. In the past you can argue that the speed was not there, that the car was not there, you can argue many things, but in the end I want to say thank you to McLaren for the opportunity they gave me. They definitely made me a better driver and people will be surprised what I can do in the car in 2014.

Q: You say you are a better driver - how so?
SP:
Understanding of the sport, of the technical side. The whole package - F1 is all about the package you bring as a driver, not just the speed. The speed for me has always been there, but other aspects, on the technical approach, have been really positive. People will be surprised by what I can do in 2014.

Q: Nico Hulkenberg has a high standing in Formula One racing after his performances in 2013. What will going up against him next year offer you in terms of your reputation?
SP:
Well, as I’ve said, we all know Nico is one of the best drivers out there, so it’s definitely a great motivation for me to partner him. Last year I partnered a world champion and I expect Nico to be on that level. It will be a great challenge with Nico, first of all to move the team forward to a better position in the constructors’ championship and then to fight hopefully for podiums and victories, who knows. It’s a new challenge for everyone - new rules - and anything can happen.

Q: It’s been announced that there’ll be double points awarded at the last race in 2014. What do you think about that?
SP:
I think it’s definitely a change of the rules that will have a big impact on how you finish the season - for some it will be right, for some it will be wrong. But I look on the positives - I think it will create a better final race when things can change completely in the constructors’ and drivers’ championships. Obviously one race will matter a lot more on your final result, but it can go both ways for anyone. I’m ok with the rule, I would say.

Q: You also get to choose a race number next year. Any thoughts?
SP:
I like 11. I don’t know if I’ll be able to get that, we’ll see. All the drivers wanted to get their own number so we can create our own image, so it’s good that the FIA has accepted it and we’re all happy with it. Why 11? I always had it in karting and actually even my email address has 11 in it...

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