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Good to prove pay-driver critics wrong - Perez

ESPNF1 Staff
December 12, 2011 « Vettel 'pushing very hard' for 2012 | Ecclestone slams Hamilton's managers »
Sergio Perez: "In the winter everyone was saying I was a pay driver and it was good to prove them wrong" © Getty Images
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Sergio Perez believes his performances in his debut season have proved that he is in Formula One because of talent rather that money.

Perez brings sponsorship to Sauber from Mexican telecommunications giant Telmex, although the team has always insisted he is driving because of his potential. He scored 14 points from the 17 races he competed in this year, with a highest-placed finish of seventh at the British Grand Prix, and he believes that is enough to prove his critics wrong.

"I have had a lot of pressure during the whole of my career, but in Formula One you step up to another level," he said, "In the winter everyone was saying I was a pay driver and it was good to prove them wrong. There were a lot of ups and downs during the season and the team's support always helped me to remain confident."

Perez's low-point of the season came at Monaco when he crashed heavily during qualifying and had to sit out of the race. He attempted to return at the next round in Canada but felt dizzy during the first practice and handed his car over to Pedro de la Rosa for the rest of the weekend. He said it took him four rounds to recover fully from the accident.

"Physically I had to wait," he said. "This wasn't easy, but it was important. When I got back into the car for free practice in Canada I realised the difficulties I had. I felt dizzy, so it was impossible to drive. Two weeks later in Valencia I felt a lot better and was able to drive. It was better again in Silverstone and at the Nürburgring, but it was only in Budapest that I felt I was completely over it.

"It had been a very heavy impact and I learnt it takes time to physically make sure you feel right after suffering from concussion. Mentally it was a shock too. It helped me a lot to go home to Mexico and it was important to do all that work to prepare for racing again."

Asked what he had learned for his second season in F1 next year, Perez added: "A lot. I think it is important to be patient, to be focused and to always give one 100%. You need to improve constantly in every aspect and you must always be ready to adapt to situations. If circumstances require that you change your driving style, you just have to go and do it."