Perez to replace Hamilton

Young Mexican will be Jenson Button's 2013 team-mate

Last Updated: 28/09/12 7:42pm

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McLaren have confirmed that Sauber driver Sergio Perez will replace Lewis Hamilton at the team next season.

With Hamilton's switch to Mercedes also announced on Friday, his current team have announced a 'multi-year deal' with the 22-year-old Mexican as team-mate to Jenson Button.

"I'm thrilled and delighted to have become a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver," Perez said. "The McLaren name is one of the greatest in the history of Formula 1. For more than 40 years McLaren has been a team that every racing driver has aspired to drive for - I was brought up on the great stories of Ayrton Senna's many world championship triumphs for McLaren - and I'm truly honoured that they've chosen me to partner Jenson from 2013 onwards."

Perez has impressed throughout the current campaign, his second season in F1, recording podium finishes in Malaysia, Canada and Italy.

"He's a future world champion now he's at McLaren. We saw a very good debut season from him last year. He's a very exciting young driver. This year at Sauber we've seen some immense drives from him. To go from 12th on the grid to second at Monza, what a stunning drive that was a couple of weeks ago, just at the right time to put himself in the shop window - and it seems McLaren were in the mood for a bit of shopping. "
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A runner-up in the GP2 series in 2010, Perez is also part of Ferrari's Driver Academy and it had been thought that he would eventually move to the Scuderia.

"I've spent the 2012 season working very hard to demonstrate my potential, but I've always remained humble and focused. I am, and always will be, extremely grateful to Peter [Sauber] and everybody at the Sauber Formula 1 team for their belief in me, and for giving me the chance to race in Formula 1," Perez added.

"I'm under no illusion that it is indeed a very big step - as it would be for any driver - but I'm ready for it. So, while I'm still fully focused on doing my best for Sauber for the remainder of this season, I'm already massively looking forward to working with everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, and with Jenson, who's someone I've long admired as a brilliant driver and a great champion."

McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh added: "On behalf of everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, I'm delighted to welcome Sergio on board. His performances throughout 2012 have convinced us that he's an extremely exciting prospect for the future.

"It was a string of giant-killing performances, a trio of podiums and a brilliant fastest lap in this year's Monaco Grand Prix that showed us that Sergio lacks nothing in terms of speed and commitment. We've been monitoring his progress carefully for some months - and, now that he's become part of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team, our task will be to refine and develop his abilities as his career progresses over the coming years.

"He's perfectly poised to develop into a world championship challenger."

Whitmarsh also expressed his appreciation for Hamilton, who has been part of the McLaren set-up since he was 13-years-old and won the World Championship with them in 2008

"It's entirely appropriate that I should take this opportunity to pass on our thanks to Lewis [Hamilton]. He wrote a huge chapter of his life and career with us, and was, and always will be, a fine member of an exclusive club: the McLaren world champions' club," he added.

"It goes without saying that we all wish him well for the future, just as it also goes without saying that we hope and believe that Sergio, too, will become a member of that exclusive club before too long."

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