Whitmarsh: Sergio is one of the best and most exciting talents in F1
28 September, 2012
Sep.28 (Reuters) It was a whirlwind few days that led from Lewis Hamilton being a McLaren driver, to being announced as a Mercedes driver for 2013 onwards while in between, a flurry of activity ensured that Sergio Perez has become the latest driver to join the Woking team’s role call of legendary Formula One drivers.
Yet Whitmarsh said the breakthrough had happened suddenly in the last few days after Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix, where the body language from McLaren and Hamilton appeared to indicate he would be staying put.
“We found out finally two days ago,” said Whitmarsh, who took a telephone call from Hamilton who was somewhere in Asia. He added that he believed he was the first person the driver had told.
At that point, McLaren moved swiftly to secure Sauber’s Mexican Sergio Perez as Hamilton’s replacement. The team had been closely monitoring his performances for some months, he added.
Hamilton’s departure breaks up the ‘dream team’ of him and 2009 champion Jenson Button but Whitmarsh said there were some sponsors who wanted a less British feel to the line-up and that had counted against other candidates such as Scottish driver Paul di Resta.
“For some of our partners to have a European and a Latin in our team is very appealing,” he said. “You’ll never please everyone, of course, but…clearly we have a broader appeal now.”
Whitmarsh said he had spoken to Slim on Thursday and the Mexican had been very supportive of Perez moving to McLaren despite the team having telecoms company Vodafone as their title sponsors. Vodafone do not have a presence in Mexico.
“They [Telmex] understand that we have a partnership with Vodafone and they are respectful of that. We have selected Sergio because we think he is one of the best talents in F1,” said Whitmarsh.
“There are a lot of people who have supported Sergio and they are excited by the prospect of Sergio joining a great team like McLaren and they did not want to stand in his way and we are grateful for their support in the past.
“Going forward, we have got an exciting young Mexican who can add a new dimension to this team and to the sport.”
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