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FIA F1 - Perez Takes McLaren Seat For 2013

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Woking, Sep. 30, 2012: With news of Lewis Hamilton’s move to Mercedes expected to be confirmed imminently, McLaren have announced Sauber’s Sergio Perez as his replacement for 2013. The up-and-coming Mexican, who has already scored two podiums this season, has been signed by the Woking team on a multi-year contract.

“I’m thrilled and delighted to have become a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver,” said Perez. “The McLaren name is one of the greatest in the history of Formula One. 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 [Button] from 2013.

“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 One team for their belief in me, and for giving me the chance to race in Formula One.

“In fact, they gave me the perfect opportunity to demonstrate what I can do - and I'm now equally grateful to (team principal) Martin [Whitmarsh] and everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes for giving me the chance to take this next very big step in my career.”

Perez, 22, is in only his second year of F1 competition, but has already impressed with a mix of speed and maturity that has put him ninth in the current driver standings. A member of Ferrari’s Driver Academy, he had been tipped as possible replacement for Felipe Massa prior to his McLaren signing.

“I’m delighted to welcome Sergio on board,” said Whitmarsh. “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.”

Whitmarsh was also quick to pay tribute to Hamilton, who started his F1 career with McLaren back in 2007, going on to win the 2008 drivers’ title with the team and accumulating 20 Grand Prix victories to date.

“It's entirely appropriate that I should take this opportunity to pass on our thanks to Lewis,” said Whitmarsh. “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.”

Sauber, where Perez currently partners Japan's Kamui Kobayashi, say they will confirm their 2013 line-up in due course.