Sergio Perez says he is ready for the challenge of racing for McLaren after signing up to partner Jenson Button for the 2013 season.
The Mexican has inked a multi-year deal to replace Lewis Hamilton, who has finally ended speculation about his future after confirming a move to Mercedes
The move to Mercedes comes after Perez had been hotly tipped to join Ferrari before Luca di Montezemolo said he didn't feel the 22-year-old had the experience required after less than two full seasons in the sport.
Perez however insists he is ready for the challenge although he was under no illusions about the challenge that lies ahead.
“I'm under no illusion that it is indeed a very big step – as it would be for any driver – but I'm ready for it,” he said. “So, while I'm still fully focused on doing my best for Sauber for the remainder of this season, I'm already massively looking forward to working with everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, and with Jenson, who's someone I've long admired as a brilliant driver and a great champion.
“I've worked very hard to get to this stage in my career, and I'm now massively looking forward to this next even more exciting stage. It's fantastic that all the sacrifices I've made are now paying off. For example, I remember very clearly the first day I left my family, when I was 15, to live in Germany to race in Formula BMW. It was tough for me - I was sleeping in a restaurant at that time - but the dream of one day becoming a Formula 1 driver kept me going through those difficult days.”
Perez also took the opportunity to thank those who had helped him on the way to a drive with one of F1's top teams, including his current team and long-time backer Carlos Slim, who has supported the Mexican as he has worked his way up the motorsport ladder.
“I've spent the 2012 season working very hard to demonstrate my potential, but I've always remained humble and focused,” he said. “I am, and always will be, extremely grateful to Peter Sauber and everybody at the Sauber Formula 1 team for their belief in me, and for giving me the chance to race in Formula 1. In fact, they gave me the perfect opportunity to demonstrate what I can do – and I'm now equally grateful to Martin [Whitmarsh] and everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes for giving me the chance to take this next very big step in my career.
“I'd like to thank Carlos Slim Jr, who has helped me since I was 14 years old, without whom I wouldn't be where I am today. Our journey together over the past eight years has been an incredible one, and I'll do everything in my power to deliver with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes the results that he and I have been working so hard and so long to achieve together.
“Finally, I'd like to thank my beloved family, who've encouraged me at every turn, and last but far from least the people of Mexico, my home country, whose magnificent support I'll do my very best to reward with future successes with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.”