McLaren hope Perez is the right choice
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McLaren have recognised that they do not know just how good Mexican signing Sergio Perez really is. The 22-year-old driver has failed to score a point in the four races since he was announced in September as successor to Lewis Hamilton, who will be racing for Mercedes next season. Before the announcement, Perez chalked up three podium finishes.
"I think he's got a lot of talent but if I'm honest, I don't know," McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said. "We wouldn't have signed him unless we thought that he could go to another level, but we don't know," added the Briton.
Perez, whose Sauber team mate Kamui Kobayashi has scored 23 points in his last four races, is the same age as Hamilton was when he joined McLaren in 2007 for what turned out to be a sensational debut. The Mexican has been at Sauber for two years and was seen initially as a 'pay driver'.
That notion changed this season, with Perez earning praise for fighting for podium placings. However, moving to McLaren, the second most successful team in by race wins, brings far more pressure than racing for mid-table Sauber.
Perez's team mate will be Britain's Jenson Button, the 2009 champion with two wins this season who has become an integral part of a team that some had seen as built around Hamilton. "There's been examples of drivers who have got a lot of talent and they can live with that pressure and deliver and others that can't," said Whitmarsh. "We undoubtedly believe we can develop him into a world champion in fairly short order," he said aiming to 'sculpt' Perez.
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo had said, when Perez was being mooted as a possible replacement for Brazilian Felipe Massa, that he did not consider the Mexican ready yet. Perez, 15th in Abu Dhabi after collecting a stop/go penalty for a collision that brought out the safety car for the second time, dismissed suggestions that his form had suffered because of the McLaren contract.