• Japanese Grand Prix

Ferrari was never an option for 2013 - Perez

ESPN Staff
October 4, 2012 « Hulkenberg remains coy over future | Lotus has fallen off the pace - Raikkonen »
Sergio Perez: "It was never clear with them if they wanted me or not" © Sutton Images
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Sergio Perez has confirmed that Ferrari did not put an offer forward for him to replace Felipe Massa in 2013.

Perez, who was helped into F1 by the Ferrari Driver Academy, has signed to drive for McLaren next season and is likely to be in direct competition with the Italian team. Earlier this year Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said he did not feel Perez was ready to drive for his team and Perez confirmed in Suzuka that he did not receive an offer.

"We were talking to them but they were never an option," he said. "I've been talking with them because I was part of their academy and I have contact with them and communication, but really the place that I've got [at McLaren] is the best place where I can be.

"I'm so happy and I thank them [Ferrari] also because they've helped me a lot to come into Formula One, but now I'm moving forward and I want to thank McLaren for taking me on board and to trust in me."

Perez, who is just 22 years old, was thought to be destined to drive for Ferrari at some point in his career, but he said his future at the team was not mapped out.

"It was never clear with them if they wanted me or not. It was difficult for them, probably, to make a decision. I think they're happy with Felipe, he's a very good driver and a proven driver as well. I'm not a proven driver or as much as a guarantee as Felipe is, so probably that's why I was never an option for them. The opportunity never came so I never saw them as an option for me."

But despite Montezemolo's comments, Perez says he is ready to drive for a top team.

"Of course he [Montezemolo] is a person I respect a lot. Maybe to drive for Ferrari you need more experience. He has his arguments so it's better you ask him what he meant by that. Maybe I am too young to join Ferrari, I don't know. I feel ready to join a top team and to fight for the championship.

And he is under no illusion as to what is expected from a McLaren driver.

"With McLaren there is no other option, you have to win," he said. "You have a car that can win every race - it's a guarantee, McLaren is always a guarantee. So I have to work very hard to give everything to my team and I am ready to do it at the end of this season."