Whitmarsh echoes Perez speculation
McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh has echoed speculation that Sergio Perez may be on the verge of replacing Felipe Massa.
Last Updated: 25/03/12 2:58pm
McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh has ratcheted up the pressure on the beleaguered Felipe Massa by echoing the speculation that Sergio Perez may be on the verge of taking his seat at Ferrari.
In the wake of Perez's stunning display at Sepang as he secured second place for Sauber behind Fernando Alonso and another deeply disappointing performance from Massa, suggestions that the Mexican could replace Felipe are bound to reach a fever pitch in the coming days. Indeed, it has already reached something close to an expectation, with Whitmarsh echoing the thoughts of many just moments after the chequered flag fell in Malaysia.
"He was a revelation, I imagine he has put a bit of pressure on Mr Massa," noted the McLaren boss. "I don't know what the odds are on him switching teams before China, but there must be consideration."
For their part, Ferrari have once again denied the rumours that Perez could make the switch in time for the upcoming Chinese GP, with team boss Stefano Domenicali insisting that the rumours were "just not true" when challenged by Sky Sports F1's Ted Kravitz.
As for Perez's current team, Sauber CEO Monisha Kaltenborn was full of praise for the Mexican driver, stating that they always knew he was a star in the making.
"We have from the beginning been convinced about his talent. If I think back now when we announced him in 2010, we were very heavily criticised for taking him," Kaltenborn told Sky Sports F1.
"But we from the beginning knew there was a lot of potential in him, so I think it's also a great job from the people in the team who worked with him to really guide him this way and bring out this performance in him."
Perez himself, meanwhile, was naturally thrilled with the result, even if he acknowledged victory had been "within reach" prior to his late slip on a wet kerb.
However, he says the hard-compound tyres he had been running in the final stint had already began to degrade by then and that given he went off the road, the situation could have been worse.
"It is a great day for me. The team did a very good job and I feel very happy for them," the Mexican said.
"It is a really nice feeling to have been on the podium here, but I think victory was also within reach. Twice in the race I was catching Fernando. On the final stint, when I was on the hard tyre compound, my tyres had degraded quite a lot. It wasn't easy and I went wide and touched a kerb. I actually was lucky not to go off.
"Before that Fernando had just pitted on the perfect lap for dry tyres, just one lap before me, and I lost a bit of ground to him. It was very difficult to make the right calls today and I want to thank my team. They always called me in at the right time, the first stop after lap one was especially important and it was also good to take the hard compound in the end, as the medium compound was not working too well for us."
Second place represents by far Perez's best result in F1 to date and he is optimistic it is only the start of a successful year for both himself and Sauber.
"It is only our second race in 2012 and I think we have a great season ahead of us," he added.
"I knew we had potential to fight today, our car is not far away from the top cars and a good crew and a driver can also make a difference in such conditions."