Five things we learnt from Sergio Perez on his first day of work at McLaren
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton replacement is no rabbit in the headlights as he limbers up for his first season at F1's top table
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 10/01/13 12:53pm
He's full of confidence
The most striking thing that came across during what turned into a very impressive first day in McLaren colours for Sergio Perez was the Mexican's confidence and self-belief. It was prominent in almost every answer as he immaculately, and enthusiastically, handled a long opening day of media engagements.
A Formula 1 driver being supremely confident in their own ability isn't unusual in itself, but Perez made no attempt to manage expectations for what he can achieve during his first season at McLaren. Even before he was asked by the assembled media corps about his prospects of challenging at the very front in year one at Woking, Perez himself offered the frank assessment that "the biggest challenge is to win" in 2013. And he meant the title, not just grands prix.
Furthermore, Perez made crystal clear that his first intention is to beat team-mate Jenson Button, ten years and 191 races his senior. Not that he was dismissive of the 2009 World Champion, admitting he can learn a lot from the most experienced driver on the grid, but just stressed that he expected to be "already competitive in Melbourne".
Perez also feels he's been ready for a top drive for a quite some time and a gasp of breath would have been justified when he claimed: "I felt ready in my first year" of F1. So irrespective of whether his day one confidence is ultimately vindicated, or proves the over-ambition of youth, you can't help but admire the Mexican's huge optimism.
He has his eyes wide open
Perez's attempts to hit the ground running at McLaren are likely to be helped by the fact he appears to have arrived at the team fully aware of what is expected of him.
While the proof will be in the pudding in terms of his abilities to prove a suitable long-term replacement for Hamilton on the track, there is no question that life at F1's top table will come as a surprise to the 22-year-old. Perez himself was the first to acknowledge that driving for Sauber and McLaren are different kettles of fish entirely, aware that the emphasis at his new team was on qualifying and fighting at the front each and every weekend, whereas at his former employers Saturdays could often be compromised for a canny tyre-preservation exercise on Sundays.
He's being thrown in at the deep end
If the pace of his first day's work at McLaren is anything to go by, Perez will be a busy boy over the coming weeks. After flying straight in from Mexico on Wednesday morning, Perez was whisked straight off to his new team's Woking-based Technology Centre for his 'official' unveiling - in a £200,000 open-top MP4-12C no less - before being pressed straight in front of the TV cameras for his first interviews of the year with Sky Sports News and others.
From there he headed off to a Central London hotel for several further rounds of interviews with the written press before ending his day taking part in an online Q&A with fans. Perez also revealed during the course of the day that preparation for his on-track work in 2013 was due to start on Thursday with sessions in the simulator at Woking along with meetings and general familiarisation work.
By the looks of things, few of his F1 rivals are yet back at work so McLaren are certainly wasting no time in getting Perez up to speed. Cast your mind back six years and the team were similarly as thorough in preparing Hamilton for his crack at the big time - and he went on to have the best rookie season of all time...
He has learnt from his mistakes
While his three brilliant podiums during the course of 2012 undoubtedly landed him the move to McLaren, it hasn't been forgotten that his year actually ended in something of a slump with six no-scores once his transfer had been announced.
Two months on from the Brazil finale, Perez was honest enough to admit that "obviously I have to accept now that I've done some mistakes". He spoke as someone prepared to learn more from his low points in F1 than the highs. Impressive.
He gets a nice line in company cars
One of the perks of driving for such an illustrious, and well-funded, team like McLaren is not only the competitiveness of the F1 machinery you invariably get given, but the road car you get to run around in when off duty.
Perez clearly liked what he saw from McLaren's new MP4-12C Spider that he arrived in at Woking as he's ordered one - albeit not in corporate silver, but in red.
A nice company car if you can get it.