2013 F1 season
Sergio Perez says victories are expected of him now he is driving for the “greatest team in Formula One”.
“When you come into McLaren you are expected to win every race because you are in the best team. If you are not winning there is something wrong.
“So in that respect I expect more pressure but as a driver it is what you are looking, to be in a top team to be in the best team and win races and championships.”
He added he is ready to handle the pressure of driving for a front-running team: “The pressure will be there. Even if I am winning the pressure will be there to win more.
“It’s something you’ve got to live with and something you’ve got to prepare yourself in the best possible way to reach expectations.”
“I have to accept I’ve done some mistakes”
Perez did not score in the final six races of 2012 after he signed for McLaren, and admits he has work to do to improve in that area.
“Obviously I have to accept that I’ve done some mistakes,” he said. “But as well in the end the points didn’t come for many reasons. Not only in the mistakes I did in Japan or other races.
“I think I put the car sometimes where we were not expecting to be but for some reason or another we didn’t manage to get the final result but it was not lack of preparation. For any team I am driving I will always give my one hundred percent.”
Perez also said he does not feel the pressure on him is increased because he is taking over from Lewis Hamilton at the team: “I don’t think it changes anything because when you’re replacing somebody at McLaren it has to be a top drivers, a very good driver.
“Even if Lewis was not there I was going to replace a very good driver. I think this is quite normal and my approach has to be to make my own career and my own history in the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.”
He said he expects to learn a lot from new team mate Jenson Button: “I am so much looking forward to working with a champion, to work with a great guy.
“The whole team has so much respect for him and really likes him so I am looking forward to build up my relationship with him, to help the team to have the best car possible and I’m really looking forward I think we’re going to have a good relationship.
“I think I’ve got a lot to learn from him,” he said. “All his experience and all his knowledge for me will be very useful.”
“My target was to join a top team”
Perez joins McLaren after two years at Sauber. He said he felt ready to move up to a top team after his first season.
“As a driver you are hungry to be able to go into a top team and fight for wins,” he said.
“My main target for last year was to secure a top team and I had a very good year, some up and downs, but overall I finished tenth and it was a very good year which gave me the opportunity to come into the best team in Formula One.”
Perez was officially presented as a McLaren driver today but has already spent some time in the factory. “The facilities are amazing here at McLaren,” he said. “If you compare them to, for example, Sauber, who has good facilities in Formula One, it’s another level.”
“But in terms of the people the way they approach their jobs it’s really amazing when you come into McLaren. It gives you a lot of boost when you drive for this team.
“From the outside the team might look very cold and difficult but I was surprised when I came to see how friendly the people live, how close everybody is. And everybody is with the same target, to win, and I think that’s what makes them so successful.”
He has also had a glimpse of the MP4-28, in which he will make his debut as a McLaren driver in March: “I’ve seen a bit of the car, I will get to see it a bit more,” he said, adding: “Obviously I’ve done the seat fit as well.”
“Obviously it will look very nice because the colours are always great on the McLaren. But in terms of pace we’ll have to wait and see until Melbourne where we’ll qualify.”
“I think it will be very close”
Perez said he has achieved greater recognition in Mexico after his change of teams. “Obviously everybody who knows Formula One knows McLaren, knows it’s the greatest team in Formula One, so [my profile] has raised quite a bit since I signed for McLaren,” he said.
After a competitive 2012 season in which six different teams won races Perez expects more of the same this year: “I think it will be very close. We might see some surprises as we saw last year. It will be very interesting but I expect to have a very competitive season.”
The team’s priority, he said, is about winning more than just races: “It’s not about only winning races it’s about winning championships here.
“And the consistency to be able to deliver one hundred percent in 20 races a season is not easy. It requires quite a lot of focus, quite a lot of preparation and I think I’ve got the team to do it.”
Perez also had a word for Kamui Kobayashi, and said he was disappointed to see his former Sauber team mate will not be on the grid this year:
“I think he is a great driver, a great guy, and somebody that can do a very good job for a team.
“In a way I feel a bit sorry but I am sure he will be back for next year because I’m sure with his speed he can find a good seat and hopefully we can have him back next year.”
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Image © McLaren/Hoch Zwei