Martin Whitmarsh admits that Sergio Perez might not be retained by McLaren
Speculation intensifies that Kevin Magnussen will replace Mexican
By Mike Wise. Last Updated: 18/11/13 5:18pm
Sergio Perez: McLaren future under intense scrutiny
McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh has admitted that Sergio Perez might not be retained as speculation that the Mexican is being dropped in favour of Kevin Magnussen intensifies.
Sky Sports F1 reported last week that the Woking team are seriously considering replacing Perez with new Formula Renault 3.5 champion Magnussen. The 21-year-old Dane is a member of McLaren's Young Driver Development Programme and Whitmarsh has described him in the past as being "lightning quick".
Speaking in a Vodafone phone-in on Monday, Whitmarsh said that "lots of people are being considered" for the seat but stopped short of naming names. He added that "when we've come to the end of those considerations we'll make an announcement".
McLaren have yet to formally announce either of their 2014 drivers, although a new deal for Jenson Button has been agreed.
Perez has expressed confidence in the past that he too will be retained but there is a feeling that the 23-year-old Mexican has not delivered in terms of outright speed.
Whitmarsh admitted that McLaren have hardly helped matters with their uncompetitive MP4-28 chassis, but neither did he give Perez a particularly ringing endorsement.
"We have not provided either of our drivers with a good enough race car this year. So in those circumstances I think Sergio has been a great team member and he's made a spirited contribution," Whitmarsh said.
"He's produced some really good races, some exciting races and ruffled a few feathers and I think he's done a pretty good job throughout the whole year."
Next season brings comprehensive rule changes but Whitmarsh said the question of how Perez might adapt to the new breed of F1 cars, powered by 1.6-litre V6 turbo engines and featuring enhanced energy recovery systems, was not the issue.
"In an era of change, you need bright drivers. I think Sergio is a clever guy and I think in that regard he's a good driver for anyone next year, including ourselves," he said.
"I think we've got two intelligent drivers now and I'm sure we'll have just that next year."
Whitmarsh also denied the suggestion that Perez will essentially be driving for his McLaren career in both the United States and Brazilian Grands Prix.
"He'll be driving very hard in Texas, I know - it's as close as he's going to get to a home crowd this year and we'll want to do a good job in front of them," he added.
"We'll be doing everything with him to see if he can get a good result.
"I think a lot of honest feedback both ways is best done in private and not done in public."