Sergio Perez targets the 2013 World Championship as he starts work at McLaren
Youngster full of confidence as he arrives in style at Woking
By Pete Gill. Last Updated: 10/01/13 2:19pm
Sergio Perez has described his transfer to McLaren "as a dream come true" and reiterated his belief that he can win the World Championship in 2013.
The young Mexican has been hired to replace Lewis Hamilton and arrived - in the comfort of a £200,000 open-top MP4-12C - at McLaren's Woking HQ for his first day of work with his new team on Wednesday before wasting little time in making a confident statement of ambitious intent.
"As soon as you walk through these doors, you see these great cars and there is so much history with this team that you immediately feel great. It's a dream come true to drive for this team," the former Sauber driver told Sky Sports News' Craig Slater.
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"I'm here to give everything I can, to do my very best in every single race, inside and outside of the car, and to work with this great family at McLaren. When you come to McLaren, this [winning the World Championship] must be your target, otherwise you shouldn't join McLaren. Everybody here is working for that goal and I'm coming here to do the same."
To achieve that target, however, Perez must first beat 2009 World Champion Button, considered by many pundits to now be McLaren's de facto number one following Hamilton's defection to Mercedes. Yet the 22-year-old has no doubts that both he and Button - set to start the new season as the most experienced driver on the grid - can thrive in McLaren's new-look partnership.
"Jenson is a very fast driver and one of the best in the world," acknowledged Perez. "It's a guarantee he will be fast and competitive. I will have to make my own space, but I think I will be able to work with Jenson. I've got a lot to learn from him but at the same time I want to beat him."
Despite frequently impressing during a 2012 season which included his first trips onto the F1 podium, Perez remains a raw talent with his new team boss, Martin Whitmarsh, describing the youngster as "a diamond that needs polishing". Qualifying, in particular, remains an area for improvement and Perez knows that he faces a steep challenge as he gets to grips with the extra demands and expectation that being a McLaren driver brings.
"Being here at McLaren will help me improve in many areas," he commented. "It will be much more intense than I have been used to. I think once the season starts will look again at where we can improve, but first of all we have to go to testing and Jenson and I will have to do everything we can to make sure we have a competitive car."
The 2013 McLaren is scheduled to be unveiled on January 31, with winter testing commencing the following week at Jerez.