- 22-year-old Mexican joins 2009 world champion Jenson Button
- Perfect blend of youth and experience
- Team praises youngster’s "giant-killing" performances and thrilling potential
- Perez: “It's a very big step in my career, but I'm ready for it”
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is delighted to announce that it has signed 22-year-old Mexican Sergio Perez to a multi-year deal from the start of the 2013 season.
In just two short years, Sergio has made a stunning impression on Formula 1, taking a string of hugely impressive giant-killing podium finishes while combining a deft turn of speed with considerable maturity, and showcasing the potential ability to become one of the biggest stars in global motorsport.
Sergio’s new deal means that he will begin a driving partnership with 2009 world champion Jenson Button. The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team’s new driver line-up offers the perfect blend of youth and experience – a combination from which both sides of the garage will be set to benefit.
While Sergio’s career with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes will begin in earnest in Melbourne next year, his future team remains absolutely committed to fighting for, and providing every opportunity to both Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton to contest, the 2012 drivers’ and constructors’ world championships.
Sergio Perez said:
“I’m thrilled and delighted to have become a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver. 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.
“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.
“In fact, they gave me the perfect opportunity to demonstrate what I can do – and I'm now equally grateful to Martin [Whitmarsh] and everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes for giving me the chance to take this next very big step in my career.
“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.
“I'd like to thank Carlos Slim Jr, who has helped me since I was 14 years old, without whom I wouldn't be where I am today. Our journey together over the past eight years has been an incredible one, and I'll do everything in my power to deliver with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes the results that he and I have been working so hard and so long to achieve together.
“As I say, I've worked very hard to get to this stage in my career, and I'm now massively looking forward to this next even more exciting stage. It's fantastic that all the sacrifices I've made are now paying off. For example, I remember very clearly the first day I left my family, when I was 15, to live in Germany to race in Formula BMW. It was tough for me - I was sleeping in a restaurant at that time - but the dream of one day becoming a Formula 1 driver kept me going through those difficult days.
“Finally, I'd like to thank my beloved family, who've encouraged me at every turn, and last but far from least the people of Mexico, my home country, whose magnificent support I'll do my very best to reward with future successes with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.”
Martin Whitmarsh (Team Principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes) said:
“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.
“Uniting Sergio alongside Jenson will give us a very broad base of driver ability. Jenson is one of motorsport’s greatest ambassadors, and his unique blend of prodigious speed and canny race-craft makes him formidably well-armed to fight for victory on any grand prix circuit in the world. While Sergio is still developing his palette of skills, we're convinced that he's not only talented and quick, but also that he's willing and eager to learn.
“He's perfectly poised to develop into a world championship challenger. His addition to the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team provides us with the perfect two-pronged driver line-up for the new season.
“Finally, 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.
"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.”
Morten Lundal (Group Chief Commercial Officer, Vodafone) said:
“On behalf of all at Vodafone, I'd like to say how pleased we are that Vodafone McLaren Mercedes has signed Sergio to a multi-year deal. We look forward to enjoying success with Sergio and McLaren.”
Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez Mendoza was born in Guadalajara, central Mexico, on January 26 1990.
He is the fifth Mexican driver to contest a round of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship – following in the footsteps of Moises Solana (1963-1968), Ricardo Rodriguez (1961-1962), Pedro Rodriguez (1963-1968) and Hector Rebaque (1977-1979).
Sergio’s route into motorsport was always assured: his father Antonio was a Mexican Formula Vee champion and his older brother Antonio was a champion in Mexico’s Corona NASCAR series. Sergio is managed by successful IndyCar/Le Mans driver Adrian Fernandez, a fellow Mexican.
After cutting his teeth in karting in Mexico and junior single-seaters in North America, Sergio moved to Europe in 2005, aged 15, to compete in Formula BMW. After two seasons, he quickly graduated through A1 Grand Prix, and completed two seasons of British Formula 3 (he was the National Class winner in 2007 with 14 race victories, and won four races and finished fourth in the Championship Class in 2008) and GP2, initially contesting the GP2 Asia series in 2008 before spending two seasons in the principal GP2 category in 2009 and 2010.
His second GP2 campaign (2010) resulted in five race victories (at Monaco, Silverstone, Hockenheim, Spa-Francorchamps and Yas Marina) and the runner-up spot in the championship behind the more experienced Pastor Maldonado.
Sergio then graduated to Formula 1 with Sauber in 2011, partnering Kamui Kobayashi. He finished seventh in his first-ever grand prix (Melbourne) before both the team's cars were disqualified for a technical infringement. His best result in his maiden season was a seventh place, in the Santander British Grand Prix.
For 2012, he remained at Sauber, completing a series of stunning drives – impressive second-place finishes at Sepang and Monza and a strong third-placed finish in Montreal – to cement his position as one of Formula 1’s brightest new hopes. He currently lies ninth in the Formula 1 world championship standings, with 66 world championship points from seven points-finishes.
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.