McLaren boss admits that his team does not know how good Perez really is

Sergio Perez Sauber Japanese Grand Prix DNF

Sergio Perez spun out of the recent Japanese GP

Nov.7 (Reuters) McLaren have admitted that they do not know exactly how good their new signing, Sergio Perez really is, as  the 22-year-old Mexican has failed to score a point in the four races since he was announced in September as successor to departing 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton.

Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber in the Press Conference. Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Preparations, Suzuka, Japan, Thursday 4 October 2012.Before the announcement, Perez had chalked up three podium finishes with Sauber.

“I think he’s got a lot of talent but if I’m honest, I don’t know,” McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh told reporters when asked about his new signing’s potential at the weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. “We wouldn’t have signed him unless we thought that he could go to another level, but we don’t [really] know.”

Perez, whose Japanese 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 was to turn out to be a sensational debut season.

The Mexican has been at Sauber for two years and was seen initially as a ‘pay driver’- someone who owes his seat as much to the financial backing he brings as his talent. That notion changed this season, with Perez earning considerable praise for the way in which he has managed the tyres and fought for podium placings.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren, Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber celebrate on the podium with Niki Lauda (AUT). Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Race, Monza, Italy, Sunday 9 September 2012.However, moving to McLaren, the second most successful team in Formula One by race wins, and one whose drivers are expected to be fighting for the title, brings far more pressure than racing for mid-fielders Sauber.

Perez’s team mate will be Britain’s Jenson Button, the 2009 world champion who has won two races this season and become an integral part of a team that some had seen as having been 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 of the challenge ahead. I think it would be foolish of me to sit here and say, taking a very young driver, there’s not an element of risk in it. But we wouldn’t have done it unless we felt there was a possibility. Time will tell.”

When McLaren signed Perez, Whitmarsh told reporters that he expected the former Ferrari academy driver to be competing to win in next year’s Australian season-opener.

Sergio Perez Sauber Japanese GP DNF“We undoubtedly believe that we can develop him into a world champion in fairly short order,” he added of a youngster whom he aimed to ‘sculpt’.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo had said, when Perez was being mooted as a possible replacement for Brazilian Felipe Massa at the Italian team next year, that he did not yet consider the Mexican “ready to handle the pressure of being a Ferrari driver”.

Perez, 15th in Abu Dhabi after collecting a stop/go penalty for causing a collision that brought out the safety car for the second time in the race, dismissed suggestions at the weekend that his form had suffered because of the McLaren contract.

“It’s just a coincidence,” he said. “I am fully focused…it’s normal that people start to make up stories that I’m not doing very well because of the McLaren deal or whatever but it’s not true.”

Subbed by AJN.

  • Kimi4WDC

    Any F1 driver will do good in McLaren. But getting someone of a Hamilton calibre involves a lot of luck and A LOT of confidence in that particular driver, specially if he is young.

    Good luck to Sergio, I hope he wont crack.

    Lucky for McLaren, Sauber is usually spot on with their young drivers. Though the reasons why Sergio is driving for Sauber are very different compare to why Kimi was driving a Sauber :)

  • vx-2

    I think both McLaren & RBR should’ve sign back Kimi instead. I’m not sure what’s the reason why hasn’t any teams take note of Kimi’s consistency comeback? This referring to both RBR and McLaren, who signed their drivers way too early? Pulling the trigger way way too early.

  • ridemesideways

    i will tell you how good he is YOU SIGNED THE WRONG SAUBER DRIVER MARTIN

  • Hawk

    Yes. But Kimi can come with a lot of gabbage; sorry I meant baggage. It’s hard to know what McLaren is interested in. It’s like they are less interested in winning anything, from a GP to WDC to WCC. They think that their car will do everything yet it also falls short. Imagine if Ferrari had 2 Massas or RBR 2 Webbers; that’s where Macca is headed. For instance if it were not for Lewis no one would know that at this point in time there is/was a car that could challenge the RB8; it gives other teams hope esp. Ferrari => “if we can beat the MP4-27 and the MP4-27 can challenge the RB8, then we can fight the RB8″.

  • Speedo

    McLaren should have given Sergio a test drive in Abu dhabi to find out how good he is in the McLaren. I suppose the rules do not permit it and further more he is still a Sauber driver and he could take information to Sauber. I would have preferred Nico who has driven well for Force India with the equipment he had and now moves to Sauber to fill the vacant seat. Next year will tell who is the better driver.