has pre-empted the announcement about Lewis Hamilton
's switch to Mercedes
by confirming that Sergio Perez
is joining the famous British team for 2013 and beyond. McLaren said 22-year-old Mexican Perez, the cream of Ferrari
's driver development 'academy' and a Sauber
driver in 2011 and 2012, has inked a "multi-year" deal to be Jenson Button
Perez had been linked with Felipe Massa
's Ferrari cockpit for 2013, but Luca di Montezemolo recently said he is not yet experienced enough for the Maranello marque. On his McLaren move, Perez is quoted as saying in a media statement: "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."
Team boss Martin Whitmarsh said McLaren wishes Hamilton "well for the future", ahead of Mercedes' highly anticipated announcement of its 2013 driver lineup. Perez has until now been backed by Carlos Slim and Mexican telcom Telmex, but in its statement McLaren made a point of quoting title sponsor Vodafone's chief executive Morten Lundal. Lundal 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."
And Perez added: "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. 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." (GMM)