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Perez not feeling pressure as he targets maiden world championship
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Posted By: James Allen  |  14 Mar 2013   |  7:23 pm GMT  |  43 comments

Mexican driver Sergio Perez says he’s not feeling the pressure ahead of McLaren debut in Australia this weekend as he sets his sights on winning the world championship.

Perez, 23, scored three podiums last season, and just missed out on victory in Malaysia, which prompted McLaren to sign him as a replacement for Lewis Hamilton.

Despite only having two seasons under his belt before stepping into a front-running car, Perez told the latest edition of the JA on F1 podcast that he’s unfazed.

“Every time you come to a big team, you’re going to replace a big name driver,” said Perez. “There will always be pressure but the team and I are very motivated.

“I don’t see myself as replacing Lewis, I see myself coming into a very good team who is fully behind me and fully committed to win.

“I haven’t won a race so far in F1 so I have to be honest, I’m desperate to win one as soon as possible. But my approach is not to be desperate because it is important to be consistent throughout season.

“I am sure the win will come if we are consistent. My goal is not just to win races, it’s to win the championship and to do that we need consistency.”

Perez struggled with consistency last season and after signing for McLaren, he failed to score a point in the final six races of the season.

But the 23-year-old said: “There were many circumstances towards end of season which affected my results. I was performing well and I made a few mistakes – this is something I learned from but it was more other circumstances out of my hands which stopped me getting into the points.

“My qualifying record improved towards the end of the season and I think I have to take what I learnt from last year – which was a lot.”

And the Mexican added that he has learned a lot from racing against the top drivers at the sharp end of the field, such as with Fernando Alonso in the battle for victory in Malaysia.

“It’s much easier to race against those guys,” he said. “They give just enough room for you, you can fight them hard and they will fight you hard.

“I think I can learn a lot from my race in Malaysia. When I was so close to the win, I ran wide. I’ve learned from that. If I did that race again, I would probably win. I’ve got good experience and I hope I can use it in the future.”

To listen to the full interview with Sergio Perez, plus interviews with Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes’ Nick Fry, make sure you listen to the March edition of the JA on F1 podcast available to download directly here.

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43 Comments
  1. Andy says:

    It will be interesting to see how he goes. One of the Bookies has him at 14/1 for the Championship, with Webber at 20/1. With Vettel as the favourite at 6/4, Webber’s price looks like it’s worth a pound.
    That’s ThhhTTT

    1. Andy says:

      Now I’ve got my cat off the laptop, I was going to say that the difference in odds between team mates in the championship winning team is quite surprising.
      I assume the Bookmakers think that as long as Vettel is reliable, Webber will be made to do as he’s told.

      1. Martin says:

        As an Australian I follow Webber to a degree, but I also believe Red Bull and Webber when they say he has technical equality and is free to race. At times Vettel has benefitted from strategy calls – Abu Dhabi was a case where the team seemed to call Webber in to stop him holding up Vettel.

        That aside, if you consider that the cars are equal, and Webber has finished behind Vettel four out of four, in terms of probabilities does it seem likely that Webber will finish ahead? In 2010 he got close, but which driver has shown a greater improvement since then?

        Still, Perez seems to be being marked up due to the uncertainty around him.

    2. Seán Craddock says:

      Shop around, I’ve seen better odds than those. If Ferrari weren’t so favoured towards Alonso my money would be on Massa. But I think Webber will be very strong.

      I agree with Andy that the difference between teammates is surprising. I know Ferrari favour Alonso, but if they have the right car, is Alonso really a whole 15 times more likely to win the championship? (3/1 Alonso 45/1 Massa) Seems a bit extreme

  2. goferet says:

    For sure, Perez does talk the talk, now it remains to be seen whether he can walk the walk by going toe to toe with the big boys on a level playing field without depending on different strategies and new tyres.

    And judging from Perez’s words concerning consistency, it appears he won’t be that all-or-nothing kind of driver that pushes for the win at all costs but rather the type that will be satisfied picking up points.

    Unfortunately for Perez, with a possible 5 teams fighting for the podiums this season, this might be the wrong time to join a big team for any single mistake or lack of pace will see a driver in one of the top teams not make it through to Q3.

    So Perez may not feel the pressure now but as the season progresses and he doesn’t plant the car on the top 2 rows in qualifying or the podium on race day >>> only then will he feel the gases in the pressure cooker

    1. Wayne says:

      More I look at it, the more I think McLaren have quietly signed a pay driver and got away with it in terms of a lack of negative publicity. Think about it, has this guy really done anything to justify this seat? He qualifies poorly, is prone to errors,isn’t especially quick. However he did come cheap and he has brought a massive sponsor with him to replace Vodaphone.

      McLaren siphoning money out of the F1 team and into the production of their soul-less road car I reckon.

      1. Sebee says:

        Wayne,

        For this reason – that he brings big money behind him he is going to be dangerous. It’s not going to be a scenario where he doesn’t get the hardware – because McLaren NEED him to succeed. They will do all they can to ensure he does succeed. And so I would take those 14/1 odds if I was a betting man.

        Also, I suggested in that Honda Article that James posted a few days ago that perhaps Jenson’s presence is a big benefit to brining Honda back into F1. You do remember how they fought for him, paid for him and threw money at the team before pulling out in panic.

        So these TWO are contributing outside of driving, right?

        If the TelMex money helps chassis development thanks to Perez, and Jenson’s presence helps with Honda coming into F1 and the team via these driver’s contributions puts together a package that wins – what is exactly wrong with that?

        I’m with you, I don’t like pay drivers. But pay drivers that get a free seat on a back marker vs. pay drivers that lift the whole team up in a big way…well, I tend to look the other way on the second. I look at Perez a bit like this:
        Job: F1 Driver
        Hobbies: F1 Team Marketing Portfolio Builder, Skiing, Guitar, scrap booking.

      2. Wayne says:

        Not sure that Perez and his money can really ‘lift the whole team up in a big way’ especially when that team is already winning races on a regular basis – or were till now maybe? Niether of these drivers are good qualifiers, if they’re goin to win races they are going to have to do it the hard way.

      3. Simon Donald says:

        Three podiums in a Sauber in one season is a decent haul I think! Once it was clear Lewis was leaving I think Perez was definitely the obvious choice maybe with the Hulk as another on par with him. What price for the Hulk at Ferrari next season or even earlier if Maasa resumes his usual averageness.

        Im looking forward to this season. Think it’ll be a cracker!! Im expecting it be open with probably a similar number of winners to last year.

      4. Gul says:

        Ditto! And how ironic is it that Martin Whitmarsh was moaning about the amount pay drivers in F1. 3 words Pot Kettle Black!

      5. hero_was_senna says:

        Isn’t it funny how everyone worries about how he’ll perform at Mclaren? He’s now being called a pay driver, poor qualifier and too inexperienced.
        Yet when LdM suggested he wasn’t experienced enough, out came the opinions that Ferrari were mistaken…

      6. Wayne says:

        Ok, not ‘everyone’ said that, and I certainly didn’t.

      7. gudien says:

        ***Wayne*** …”soul-less road car”. Like that. Enzo Ferrari (red), Mercedes Benz (Silver Arrows), and Ron Dennis (grey).

        The marriage of Ron Dennis’ racing team and Carlos Slim’s dinero will be fascinating to watch unfold. How long before Jenson Button replaces Martin Whitmarsh along the wall?

      8. F1 UK says:

        Common Wayne really!??? The fact that you don´t like Perez is not argument enough to say that he has no experience and he´s lacking pace. You guys just forget what he did with a car like Sauber last year (being a 2nd year rookie)… Who else did something similar in the past 5 years!?… You just sound like old people “missing the old good days” kind of crapp… Perez has money? Maybe, but the most relevant, he has the skills and Im sure we will beat Button more than once, this will be his stronger argument to shut all this comments against.

      9. Wayne says:

        I never said I didn’y like him, I don’t even know the guy. As for the rest of your post….. we’ll see won’t we?

  3. Lee says:

    Perez and Button destined to qualify 7th and 4th at every race.

    1. AuraF1 says:

      I guess as long as they win a few from those positions nobody at McLaren would care…

    2. D@X says:

      At least Perez could have done a better job at choosing a helmet colour or is he re using the one left over by lewis, well with the sate of the economy I guess this is all the cut backs we will see from Mclaren.

      1. Flying Scotsman says:

        And helmet choice concerns you so much you felt the need to share?
        So what effect do you see this having as the season pans out?

      2. D@X says:

        Reading way too much into it Scotsman, there are no restrictions to what can be posted here so long it’s in the realms of F1, cheer up! I have no idea what mystical powers helmets posses to answer the last question. Its the only kit the driver can customise as far as I know…get it?

      3. Simon Donald says:

        Unlike Mercedes then!! Hamilton and Rosberg’s helmets are so similar they will be impossible to tell apart!

  4. seeing scarlet says:

    LOLOLOL wait until qualifying

  5. Andrew M says:

    “I don’t see myself as replacing Lewis…”

    Hate to break it to you Checo…

  6. Seems like typical political speak from Checo

    Only interesting point is that he has said that he is not expecting to replace Lewis. This seems to translates that he expects his performance to be worse than Lewis’ last year.

    Good luck to him though – hope he does well, it will be good for the sport in Mexico

  7. Erik says:

    Sounds like a rookie talking doesn’t it? I’ve learnt from this, I’ll be better at that, etc. I am no fan of Hamiltons, but McLaren are going to have a few broken cars this season me thinks, whilst this pup settles down.

    1. Flying Scotsman says:

      Havent they had a few broken cars over the last few seasons too?

      1. Erik says:

        Yeah, so an eager to please youngster won’t improve that situation.

  8. Random 79 says:

    We’ll see if he’s still not feeling any pressure when he’s sitting on the grid Sunday arvo :)

  9. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    Interesting to see people trying to put pressure on Checo. For me it should be on the other driver in the team. Sure Jenson won in the Brawn wonder car. My drivers have won a championship that way – Jones, Villenueve, Hill, etc. To me the pressure is on Jenson to prove it was more than a one off. The team will rely more heavily on him this year without Hamilton.

    1. Liam in Sydney says:

      Better to be a one-off then not even one. :)

    2. KRB says:

      Totally. I read his recent comments about staying with McLaren for the rest of his career as maybe wanting to open and extend his current contract. But what if he sucks eggs this year, and has the same problems as last year with set-up? I don’t see how McLaren could put up with that from their #1, and he’d be gone.

      The pressure is on Button to perform this year.

      1. Martin says:

        One consideration is whether Hamilton contributed to Button getting better results than he otherwise would have. McLaren operates equal drivers, so if Button was good enough to retain his drive these last three years, then he should be able to maintain that. And the odd 1-2 with Hamilton in front could turn into a win for Button.

        However, if Hamilton either drove the chassis development in a successful way that helped Button (no evidence for this) or inspired Button to qualify better (harder to tell, but not what I can see), then Hamilton going could hurt Button.

        If Perez isn’t good enough, it will become interesting, with the value on future possible sponsorship being key. McLaren would need to be sure that they are getting something better than Button. Hamilton, Vettel and Alonso seem unlikely to go to McLaren anytime soon. McLaren’s corporate requirements are anathema to Kimi, and Button is still a world champion, unlike anyone else. Perez brings Telmex, but Button would be more valuable to every other sponsor McLaren has.

    3. Dave Aston says:

      Comparing 2009 with Jones in 1980? Not even close. Regardless of the car, Alan Jones was as good as anyone in ’79-’80-’81, and definitely retired too early.

  10. Val from montreal says:

    Perez with his cap on looks like Juan Pablo Montoya !

    I have a good feeling about him ..

    He will be a new revelation … McLaren made the right call !

    Their first obvious pick should have been Schumacher !

    Now that would of been to good to be true …

    Go Button !

  11. Rob says:

    Practice 1, and Button and Perez fighting to get out of the top 10… Perez leads the charge…

    LOL

  12. Anne says:

    Enough of this! I don´t care what they think or how the feel. After today´s practice McLaren showed to be way behind the top cars. And unless there is rain I don´t see neither Alonso nor Hamilton nor anyone beating Vettel

    1. KRB says:

      Sadly, I agree, to your last point. The RB9 looks the class of the field. Who knows if anyone is still holding anything back, I wouldn’t think they would on the long runs today, just b/c they’d want some certainty about where they’re at, pace-wise.

  13. Chris Chong says:

    Still think they lifted the wrong driver from Sauber…

    1. Dave Aston says:

      Agree 100%.

  14. Frontmarker says:

    Perez will probably beast it and be the driver of the season. I don’t buy this criticism of him

  15. Gareth says:

    Only thing Perez did at the end of last year was crash. I think Hulkenberg was teh best choice but of course money talks. As for Perez I dont see him lasting the season. I see a bucket of Ferrari Euros heading Mclarens way for Perez to be “realised” from his contract.
    Perez as world champion, more chance of Mansell returning to Mclaren.

    1. CarlH says:

      If you’re so sure Perez is not World Champion material why do you think Ferrari would pay for him to be released from his contract?

      1. Gareth says:

        Because they need a good number 2 for Alonso

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