Martin Whitmarsh trying his hardest to get McLaren discard Sergio Perez a 2014 drive
Jenson Button, meanwhile, feels sympathy for ousted Mexican
By Sky Sports Online. Last Updated: 18/11/13 4:35pm
McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh is doing his best to help Sergio Perez find a drive for the 2014 season.
Perez surprisingly found himself looking around for work earlier this week when his deal with the Woking team was brought to an end after only one season and they promoted youngster Kevin Magnussen to replace him.
But Whitmarsh refused to criticise Perez for his performances and has talked with Lotus chief Eric Boullier and Force India principal Vijay Mallya about the chances of taking the talented Mexican on.
"I am trying to help him get a drive," said Whitmarsh. "People say our decision was terribly late, but what I have said to him is to stand back from it a bit.
"I've told him the Ferrari seats have gone, the same with Mercedes, Red Bull and Toro Rosso, and in truth he wasn't in the frame for any of those so he hasn't lost a seat.
"At the time (of the decision) Williams had a seat, but that has now gone, but there is a Lotus seat, and one at Sauber, Force India, Caterham and Marussia.
"So there is no seat closed to him and we can have no accusations we made the decision too late. I have rung Force India and I have rung Lotus. They both do a good job and I have recommended him because he deserves to be in Formula One."
Whitmarsh insisted that it was purely the emergence of the exciting Magnussen, who recently clinched the Formula Renault 3.5 championship title, that prompted the team to make the change.
"I would rather say we saw such great potential in Kevin that we decided to sign Kevin. It was not about what Checo did wrong. What Checo did wrong was that Kevin existed. Kevin was part of our programme," the McLaren chief added.
"If you go up and down the pit lane and speak to the knowledgeable people they will say Kevin is the most exciting young driver not in F1. Now I went up and down the pit lane (to speak to people about a deal for Magnussen) and no one wanted to do it, so we went for it.
"We could have taken a lot of the drivers that are available, the experienced guys, but we made a decision we wouldn't take any of those guys in preference to Checo.
"That is why I can reasonably recommend him to another team because, as I say, he certainly deserves to be in F1. He is an exciting driver to watch, he will go for it and I enjoy watching him.
"When he was at Sauber I thought 'That was good, let's see what we can make of it', but it hasn't worked out for us. I don't regret it, I didn't have a Kevin last year - so it is as simple as that."
With Perez admitting on Thursday that his late release from McLaren had left him in a "difficult" position for 2014 - and could even prompt him to look outside F1 to continue his career - current team-mate Jenson Button has told Sky Sports F1 that he does feel sympathy for the 23-year-old.
The Briton also echoed Whitmarsh in suggesting that Perez would add value to another team.
"You always do [feel sympathy] when a driver's in the team for the year. I've worked with him for a year so I've seen how he's improved through the year and feel that he has learnt a lot. It has been down to the team, they've been pushing a lot of information his way - they're very, very good at doing that," Button told The F1 Show.
"I remember when I joined the team, it's easy to get the performance with this team because you can go into different areas that maybe other teams don't really look at.
"It's tough for him now because he's got to look for another drive but I think he's great for any team out there because he's got the experience of working for two teams, one of them is McLaren. He's really learnt a lot this year and has done a reasonable job. So he's good material for a team, especially with the new regulations."