Sergio Perez admits he has 'never been this excited' ahead of first McLaren year
Mexican accepts he has had to "start from zero" at new team
By Mike Wise
Last Updated: 02/02/13 3:20pm
Perhaps understandably, Perez was all smiles as be piloted a MP4-12C road car into the McLaren Technology Centre on Thursday as the team launched this year's F1 challenger.
With his family proudly looking on, the 23-year-old did not appear short of confidence - almost immediately, Perez announced his intention to win the World Championship this year.
Yet there was also more than a hint of realism, with Perez acknowledging that he "starts from zero" as Jenson Button's team-mate.
"I've never been this excited, even when I came into Formula 1. It's really something very special that I'm looking forward to the new season," he said.
"It's been a very busy couple of months. We've done an incredible job with my engineers, working together in the simulator to understand the car.
"If we can do the same in testing to prepare myself for the races, we'll have an incredible preparation."
Although Perez has yet to sample McLaren's MP4-28, he is not lacking for preparation having already spent by his reckoning between 15 and 20 days in their simulator.
New boss Martin Whitmarsh reckons Perez is "working much harder than he's probably ever worked before" but the former Sauber driver says he has no other choice.
"What I have learned so far about the new car, about the systems of the car. Even though it's an F1 car like my ex-team, it's totally different. The steering wheel is completely different - you have to start from zero," he said.
"I think we've done an incredible job to prepare myself. In the physical side, I don't think I've ever been this fit and I still have one month to go."
Perez switches teams having impressed hugely in 2012, earning himself three podium finishes and almost winning the Malaysian Grand Prix.
A hiccup came after his move to McLaren was announced - Perez failed to score a point during the final six races of the season - but the youngster insists he is learning.
"It was an incredible year in terms of results and I have many positive moments but also many negative moments," Perez admitted. "I learned from those a lot - especially from the negatives. I always say you can learn a lot more from the negatives points than the positives."
Much has been made of the manner in which Perez has earned some of his best results - specifically his knack of coming through the field whilst carefully managing his tyres.
The feeling is that both Perez and Button will benefit from Pirelli's new range of tyres, which have been designed to degrade more rapidly than before, but the man himself preferred to hold his counsel for now.
"There's no guarantee. I haven't tried the McLaren. I have to say that the Sauber was good on the tyres and I can also add something to that. The most important thing is to maximise the understanding as soon as possible ," he added.
"It will be very difficult in the winter testing with the cold temperature to have an understanding. Once we get to Melbourne, which might be very hot, I think we will have it ready."