No Ferrari option for Perez
Sergio Perez has admitted that Ferrari were never an option for him next year despite all the speculation that a move to the Scuderia had been his most likely destination.
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Strong rumours right from the early weeks of the season had suggested that the young Mexican was to replace Felipe Massa alongside Fernando Alonso at Ferrari next year.
That switch appeared more likely after Perez beat the Ferraris on their home soil at Monza last month but in recent weeks the story of his future had taken a twist following press reports that McLaren had sounded him out over a move should Lewis Hamilton depart.
With Hamilton duly deciding to switch to Mercedes, McLaren simultaneously announced last Friday the impending arrival of Perez to partner Jenson Button.
Speaking for the first time in public since the move was announced at Suzuka on Thursday, Perez, a member of Ferrari's young driver academy, admitted that while there had been talks with the team, replacing Massa was never seriously an option the table.
"We were talking to them but it was never an option," Perez said.
"I've been taking with them because I was part of the Academy. I have a good contact with them, a good communication, but obviously the place that I got [at McLaren] is the best place where I can be.
[But] I'm so happy and thankful also for them because at the time they helped me a lot to come into Formula 1 and moving forward. I want to thank McLaren to take me on board and trust me."
After the first reports of an approach to McLaren emerged, Perez denied he had spoken to the Woking team's management when quizzed on the matter in Singapore two weeks ago.
But with a move to the same team now confirmed less than two weeks later, the 22-year-old now admits he did indeed have initial talks with McLaren before then, but that he had simply decided not to discuss his future in the media.
"There has been some talks before but I didn't want to give too much information about my opportunities, my options," he said.
"So the question doesn't come that often because if I said at that time 'yes' it would be full of questions.
"I wanted to keep it low profile, always concentrating in my team and giving 100% to my team. I'm very thankful they've given me this opportunity and we have six races with a strong car to go. I want to leave on a high with this team."
Having been signed by McLaren to replace a World Champion and 20-time race winner, Perez is under no illusions about the challenge ahead for him - but says it is one he relishes.
"Of course I rate Lewis as one of the fastest drivers in the grid so it will be not easy at all," he said.
"I have very big shoes to fill so it will be difficult but I will do everything I can.
"I will work as hard as possible to give the best results and win championships with this great team."
He added that he was looking forward to working alongside Button, who is 10 years his senior.
"It will be great to have a very good Champion [as team-mate] - he's a World Champion - and it will be a pleasure to work with him together to reach the same targets for the team, which is winning," Perez admitted.