Sergio Perez, Martin Whitmarsh. McLaren, 2013

Perez: ‘McLaren are the greatest team’ and race victories are expected

2013 F1 season

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Sergio Perez, Martin Whitmarsh. McLaren, 2013Sergio 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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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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76 comments on “Perez: ‘McLaren are the greatest team’ and race victories are expected”

  1. I’ve watched the career of Perez since he caught my eye in the 2008-09 GP2 Asia Series, and I must say that I’m really pleased that he’s at a top team now. I hope this first year at McLaren will sand down his rough edges, and that he can become a more complete driver. I do hope Perez can beat Button this year, or at least stay close to him.

  2. ‘McLaren are the greatest team after Ferrari’ and race victories are expected

    I have that fixed for you, Checo. ;-)

    Nonetheless, I’ve always strongly disliked Mclaren, but I’m a fan for Perez, so for once I will have to look past my blind Mclaren hate and support Sergio. :-)

    1. @kingshark – I hate it when a driver that you like joins a team that you hate. I was that way when Rosberg joined Mercedes :(

      1. I know that feeling too. Such a shame that Kimi won his first world championship as a Ferrari driver…

          1. yeah, first and ONLY… :)

      2. Drop Valencia!
        9th January 2013, 22:58

        Yeah I was sad when Webber joined Red Bull because they were going nowhere…

        1. They were going nowhere… with Webber.

          1. jimscreechy (@)
            10th January 2013, 8:16

            LOL or DC for that matter

      3. @dot_com There was no Mercedes before Rosberg joined them! Unless you’re hating on Brawn/Honda…

        1. @andrewtanner – Brawn ‘became’ Mercedes, then shortly afterwards announced Rosberg was going to drive for them.

    2. Completely agree… but I think after a season or two you start warming up to the team you used to hate.

      I always hated Ferrari, but since Alonso joined them… I’ve warmed up to them a little. It also help that Ferrari is now the underdog amongst the top teams as compared to the early 2000s where they did anything and everything possible to stay absolutely dominant.

      But I still haven’t warmed up to them enough.. I still stand at luke warm.

      1. the early 2000s where they did anything and everything possible to stay absolutely dominant

        @todfod They’re still doing anything and everything possible, it’s just that they aren’t very good at it.

    3. I’ve had a slightly different predicament where I’ve always liked Ferrari but am not an Alonso fan. So it’s a torn feeling.

      Same goes for Perez, I’m also very much anti-Mclaren but Perez has grown on me. I’ll be giving him a cheer now and then in 2013.

      1. @serv

        I’ve had a slightly different predicament where I’ve always liked Ferrari but am not an Alonso fan. So it’s a torn feeling.

        That’s how I am as well.

      2. @serv and @david-a
        You can count me in as well. :)

  3. This’ll be make or break for Perez. Kovalainen came into McL with similar promise and utterly under performed for 2 years, I really hope he lives upto the hype and doesn’t make as many mistakes as he did last year

  4. Guys, he is not part of the team, maybe he will be, but he is yet to say “massively”.

    1. Yes — instead, he seems to have a fondness for “obviously,” and that is a Red Bull trait!

      1. I once counted the number of times Vettel and Schumacher said ‘obviously’ in one article: 10 times!

        1. Perez has four in this one and three in the previous one. Not bad, not bad! ;-)

          1. Golden rule of Formula 1: the more you say obviously, the more championships you win. Pérez is in good shape for a championship or three

      2. It would be funny if he starts saying “massively” and then throw some “maximums” here and there just for the sake of it.

    2. As in ‘massively frontlocking’ ?

      1. i think “massive understeer” is something I hear a lot on one McLaren drivers team radio!

    3. For sure!

      1. “I’ve obviously got massive understeer, for sure!”

  5. I wonder how much McLaren are going to tolerate Checo’s rebellious haircut. I bet he’s gonna show up in Australia a clean-cut mamma’s boy.
    Oh, how I would love to see another Senna-Prost/Alonso-Hamilton duel this time featuring Button and Perez.

    1. He certainly seems up for it, I want to hear what JB makes of this fighting talk ;)
      Not sure if it was part of the mclaren event but it’s some beefy comments he is making, seems not to have been covered in these f1fanatic articles

    2. jimscreechy (@)
      9th January 2013, 18:15

      Don’t understand this comment at all. Is there some hidden meaning, or is it just meaningles

      1. Just point to the line you don’t understand and maybe I’ll bother to explain it to you.

        1. jimscreechy (@)
          9th January 2013, 18:41

          Lets start with sentence one, then move to sentence two shall we.

          1. I was talking about the ‘legend’ that at McLaren the drivers (and staff) must stick to a corporate image – that is neatly cut hair and shaved beards (at least at the start of the season).

  6. I’m a bit annoyed when Perez speaks about fighting for championship in his first year for Mclaren. I don’t think he will because he has neither enough experience (he has to iron out his mistakes first), neither superspeed, which Hamilton has. I think, that in his first season with Mclaren he has to aim for his first win, and if he shines – for 2-3 victories.

    1. No where in the article says he is looking to win the championship in 2013. It says that the team McLaren looks forward to winning championships. Not that anyone (nor himself) expects that from him right away.

      1. “I will be disappointed if I don’t beat him. I am here to win. We are all here to win.

        “If you don’t expect to win you should go home. I am here to win the championship. That is the target.”

        1. Yeah.. I think its a fair statement to make after assessing his teammate.

          Its not like Jenson sets the bar as high as Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel or Raikkonen. If Checo wants to be considered a great talent in this sport.. he should beat Jenson in his first year itself.. and I can understand that he would disappointed if he didn’t.

          1. jimscreechy (@)
            10th January 2013, 18:34


    2. So… what? Is he meant to aim low, then? Surely high ambition is better than low when you’re racing for Mclaren?

    3. @osvaldas31 – I doubt he will win the title, but why shouldn’t he aim as high as he is aiming? He’s going to have a chance to regularly win.

      1. I think the general idea here is to aim high, if you fall short, then it still isnt too bad. So if Checo aims for the title, which he wont get, and finishes somewhere in the top 4 at the end of the year, he can be proud of himself.

        Realistically, Checo should not be talking about titles. His goal should be to consistently qualify on the front 2 rows of the grid and finish in those positions. I still think that he has a lot to prove. I wasnt greatly moved by his performances last year. He did show some pace, but no regularly enough. As I said before, his 3 drives to the podium were greatly influenced by factors such as tyre strategy, grid position and weather, not on pure pace.

        Dont get me wrong, he has potential, just like most of the other young drivers on the grid. They are all good enough to be World Champions at some point given the conditions with respect to team, management, car etc are conducive.

        I wish the best to Checo. Of course being a KK fan, I am a bit bitter because in no way should Checo deserve a Mclaren seat while he is out of F1 altogether! If only there was a Japanese Mr Slim..well the Telmex logo wont appear this year, but you be damn sure they will next year, when the Vodafone contract runs out.

      2. But he shouldn’t say it in public, he should try to do his best and then think about achieving something.

  7. jimscreechy (@)
    9th January 2013, 18:38

    I don’t think I have ever seen anyone tow the team line with such vigor.

    1. Do the driver’s have to “tow” the line by themselvesw or can they use a truck or SUV?

      1. guys are on a roll here ;P

        1. now don’t say rolling which way :P

  8. Whether Pérez’s move to McLaren works out will be one of the most interesting questions of 2013 for me. I think he has done a good job so far at the Sauber team, even though many think that his good results had more to do with strategy than racecraft. Two years of experience isn’t exactly a solid base for a move to the “greatest team” in Formula 1. What I fear is that he will end up like Kovalainen – a talented driver that simply had to perform when he wasn’t ready for it.

    1. @andae23 – Hamilton had zero years of Formula One experience when he joined McLaren. Räikkönen had one.

      I doubt Kovalainen’s biggest problem was his inexperience, he probably just isn’t talented enough. Sure, he did rather well in Lotus/Caterham in 2010 and 2011, but he was racing against soon-to-retire Trulli. Kovalainen didn’t do as well against Petrov and now he’s probably leaving Formula One.

      I don’t expect Perez live up to the expectations. He’ll probably have a couple of great races and maybe a couple of wins (depending on how good next year’s McLaren is), but I seriously doubt he’ll be anywhere near a championship. I think Perez is a lot like Kovalainen. An average driver, who got picked by McLaren in a rush. (Yes, I do acknowledge that I may sound rather stupid in a year’s time, but I’ll take my chances)

      1. @hotbottoms

        Hamilton had zero years of Formula One experience when he joined McLaren

        …and a 9 year association with the team.

        1. What’s association with a team got to do with it? Vettel has been associated with Red Bull since he started wearing nappies. Sure you know the people but you don’t know your race engineer, your mechanics and of course the massively different challenge that is formula 1. What Hamilton and Hakkinen did in their first year was phenomenal. Perez already has 2 seasons in Formula 1 so his debut with McLaren should be easier. Unfortunately he’s not in their class.

          1. jimscreechy (@)
            10th January 2013, 8:20

            Good point

          2. Very much in fact. It helps the drivers to fit into the team when the arrive and is an environment they are accostumed to unlike Perez who is joining a new team. Association helps I can assure you.

          3. @davidwhite I don’t understand where Hakkinen comes into this?

            I tend to think that Perez could turn out at the same sort of level as Montoya, quick enough to win plenty of races but not up there with the title contenders.

            However, that’s platform enough to build towards a championship one day as long as you can manage to keep a seat in the sport. Having run near the front plenty of times in a Sauber I can’t see why he can’t be right up there in a Mclaren. Not many champions start off their careers as impressively as Hamilton, Schumacher, Vettel etc so I don’t think not being quite top drawer yet is enough to write the guy off.

    2. Agree except that he is not moving to the “greatest team” in Formula 1.

  9. When you come into McLaren you are expected to win every race because you are in the best team.

    As @kingshark has correctly stated, in actual fact Ferrari have a better win percentage (25.2% vs 25.7%) since their respective F1 debuts and have won more constructor’s titles since McLaren’s inception (8 vs 14), so from a historical perspective the statistics suggest he’s wrong on that account. And if we are going by recent form, Red Bull have beaten McLaren over the last 4 years and have won 18.7% more of the races (45.33% vs 26.67%) and scored 53.5% more of the pole positions (70.7% vs 17.2%, discounting 2009 because of the race fuel qualifying skewing the results). Of course McLaren had the fastest car on average last season but they also had 4 retirements due to car failures (discounting Germany as that was due to puncture damage) whereas Red Bull only had 3 and much fewer pit-stop blunders.

    So really Pérez is wrong on all accounts in that statement! ;) In all seriousness though I expect Pérez to score a few wins (provided the car is fast which one can reasonably expect it will be given there is very little in the way of rule changes and McLaren won the last two races in 2012) but I don’t expect him to be a championship contender; not when he’s up against driver’s like Sebastian Vettel, who we can also assume will have a fast car, Jenson Button (although not held in as high regard I still believe he will have the better of his comparitvely inexperienced teammate) and Fernando Alonso (who we have seen can pump in the results if the car is good enough). I just hope he returns to Monza form and not Japan form, as late season (indeed after his signing for McLaren) he seemed to go “off the boil”.

    1. If you were driving for either of the current big three, wouldn’t you say the same about your own team? Or call one of the others the best?

      1. @vettel1
        You have ridiculously over-analyzed nothing but a PR-statement.

        1. Not that I don’t appreciate the effort, of course. (where’s that edit button when you need one).

        2. @kingshark I know, hence the winky face! I just thought I should point out who the true best teams are.

    2. in actual fact Ferrari have a better win percentage (25.2% vs 25.7%) since their respective F1 debuts

      Well, it depends on whose debuts you’re talking about. McLaren’s win percentage is 25.2% since their F1 debut, but it’s much higher than that since the McLaren/Project Four merger in 1981. Only 24 of McLaren’s 182 wins came before the present ownership structure took the company over, but 191 of the race starts did – a win ratio of just 12.6%.

      If you just look at the modern, Woking-based, McLaren team their win percentage is 29.7%. Though admittedly Pérez didn’t say “Project Four Racing are the greatest team” but he maybe should have.

      1. @ilanin – I am referring to the team that made their F1 debut under the name of McLaren and as the modern Woking-based team credit their debut as. So yes, they indeed have won 25.2% of the races they have entered by their own definition.

  10. Actually it may depend more on Mc than on Perez, at least was like that last year as drivers did ok, anyway fastest pit stops, fastest car, reliability issues will be totally on the watch now, I say he has good chance. I only wish Ham was on button seat, cause right now can’t see how Button could get out of this one ! But hey Ham may comeback to Perez team in a few years and get a real intern team fight !

  11. I read Perez’s comments about fighting for the world championship this year and had a good chuckle to myself. However, as a few other readers have pointed out, you can’t expect him to join McLaren and be happy with the odd podium – he is there to win.

    I do wonder however if Martin Whitmarsh has in the back io his mind that if Perez doesn’t turn out to be a world beater, it’s not the end of the world. Look at his two main rivals, Ferrari and Red Bull – both have what i would call very strong “equal but no.2” drivers who can pick up points and get the occasional win (I know Massa has had his problems but when his head’s right he can be as quick as the best). This set up has allowed both teams to focus on one driver and ultimately it’s been an advantage over the likes of McLaren where Hamilton and Button were taking points off each other. So if Perez slots into this “equal but no.2” role, it might actually be a good thing for Whitmarsh and McLaren.

    1. For McLaren to start grooming Sergio as a No 2, it must first have a potential No 1 who is always there – at the top, fighting for wins in consistent way – a thing that Button didn’t quite manage to do in his 3 years at McLaren.
      McLaren’s current line-up seems to me a bit akward for a top team, I really can’t find any comparisons or patterns with other line-ups from the past and I think for Martin himself this driver combination is a big unknown.

      1. @Klaas I agree with you – Hamilton leaving McLaren means they are now without one of the top 3 drivers in formula 1. So if McLaren, Red Bull and Ferrari are at similar levels of speed and reliability this year, Button won’t be the man to take the championship.

        However, from Whitmarsh’s view, Button IS a no.1 driver and so from his perspective, he probably thinks this is a great combination. Personally I think it looks weaker than the other top 3 or 4 teams and could be the one factor they are lacking to win the championship.

  12. Perez is a great young driver with huge talent, but i can’t see him finishing top 4. firstly the top 3 teams, Red bull, Ferrari and Perezs teammate button, they either have huge amount of talent and experience or a world champions, and secondly the midfield teams have great drivers with loads of experience and world champions, with Kimi at Lotus and Hamilton and Rosberg at mercedes. not to mention Maldonado and grosjean who have great potential. This season will be very competive and it will be hard to win for Perez, and not too mention that lotus say they will finish top 3 this season, and if Massa continues his late form last year, it will be tough. if he finishes top 5 and gets a win or two he has done a great job.

  13. Perez also said he does not feel the pressure on him is increased because he is taking over from Lewis Hamilton

    Does anyone else here think Perez is telling a big porky pie?

    1. Not in the least. Why should Perez feel the pressure of replacing Hamilton? It’s not like Hamilton is bigger than Jesus. It doesn’t make sense for McLaren to expect him to out-perform a driver who is no longer racing for them, and it doesn’t make sense for Perez to feel any pressure to out-perform him, since it’s something that cannot be quantified. And it’s moot, because as we saw in Italy last year, Perez is perfectly capable of putting pressure on Hamilton.

      1. I agree with you Mr Castle about Sergio not needing to feel any pressure but for other reasons. I don’t think that anyone from Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes actually believed in his bravado about trying to win the championship (except Perez himself maybe) and since they are not really expecting it from him, Checo’s main target will be to beat Button. Even if he finishes 10th in the WDC but Jenson 11th, it will be considered that he lived to the team’s expectations.

      2. jimscreechy (@)
        10th January 2013, 18:30

        I don’t think the pressure has anything to do with Hamilton. The team expects him to perform and expects results. He is there to score points and bring home the championship (or do his level best to come close as possible), certainly not coast around the track oblivious to his role within the organisation like Homer Simpson. Ultimately the measure of a driver is always his team mate so it is Button he will be responding (or not) to pressure from, not an irrelevant Hamilton who is as far as McLaren is concerned ‘yesterdays news’.

  14. Unless McLaren can get those gremlins out of the gearbox, the wheel gun and the hydraulics, they could have two MSCs driving for them like he did when he got his 7 WDCs and yet still lose the championship.

    And unless the driver carries a toolbox and jack with him in the car, that is all down to the design team, the engineers and the mechanics.

  15. Perez has to make statements like that to maske McLaren forget LH but the truth of the matter is he will fail to please. Talk about putting one’s eggs in one basket, this time Whitmarsh’s put all his bets on this chap. He will be praying LH does not perform well at Silver Arrow!

  16. Traverse Mark Senior
    11th January 2013, 0:40

    And so it begins. Every word, noise and movement Perez makes will now be analysed to the nth degree (just like Hamilton).

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