|© AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin
A relatively young driver stepping up at McLaren has given no reason for the British team to favour its more experienced hand next season.
Sergio Perez will partner Jenson Button in 2013 with the pair to stand on an equal footing in a bid for victories despite the Mexican’s moderate experience in Formula 1.
"I believe that Sergio will be competing to win in Australia (at the season-opener) next year and I think he is capable of doing that," team principal Martin Whitmarsh was quoted saying by Reuters.
"With regards to number one status in the team, it is not how we work in our team and we will be in Australia next year with Sergio and Jenson competing for a win," he affirmed.
Whitmarsh noted that Perez had the hunger to perform in F1, clearly marked by his performances this season.
"There was no fear as he has overtaken people like Fernando Alonso this year. He has got good race craft,” observed the Briton. “When you speak to him you realise he is very young but that is exciting... we undoubtedly believe we can develop him into a world champion in fairly short order."
And although Button will miss the competition against Hamilton, the 2009 world champion is looking forward to working with Perez.
"Bear in mind that he has an involvement in management of some drivers,” Whitmarsh said of Button. “He believes McLaren had made the right decision with the selection of Sergio.”
Perez was tipped to emerge at Ferrari as a replacement for Felipe Massa next season, but the Italian team’s president believed that the 22-year-old was not ready to take the step although McLaren disagreed.
"I believe he is ready otherwise we would not be doing it," Whitmarsh said.
"In 2006, I was sat in this office getting a lot of criticism about putting a young Lewis Hamilton into Formula 1. People said there was no way he could possibly be ready,” he recalled.
"Sergio is young and undeveloped but it has been proven you can sculpt drivers and that will be a challenge for us," he added.