Sergio Perez has revealed that signing for Ferrari for the 2013 F1 season was never an option after the Mexican confirmed that discussions with McLaren over his deal for next year had been ongoing for some time.
Perez had been mentioned as a possible replacement for Felipe Massa if Ferrari elected to replace the Brazilian, although he then seemed to be ruled out of the equation when Luca di Montezemolo said he didn't feel the Sauber man was ready to make the step up.
It as duly confirmed that the Mexican will however move to a top team after inking a multi-year deal with McLaren to replace Lewis Hamilton and while he admitted that he had spoken to Ferrari, Perez said that taking up a race seat with the Italian team hadn't been an option.
“We were talking to them but it was never an option,” he said. “I've been talking with them because I was part of the academy. I have a good contact with them and good communication, but obviously the place I got is the best place I can be and I'm so, so happy and thankful also for them (Ferrari) because at the time they helped me a lot to come into Formula One. Now I'm moving forward and I want to thank McLaren for taking me on board and trusting in me.
“It was never actually with Ferrari... if they wanted me or not. It was difficult for them, Ferrari, to make that decision. I think they are happy with Felipe. He's a very good driver, a proven driver as well. I'm not a proven driver, I'm not a guarantee as Felipe is so probably that's why I was never an option for them. The opportunity for me never came so I never saw them as an option for me.”
Perez had denied speaking to any of the top teams in Singapore a fortnight ago amidst the ongoing speculation over his future, but when quizzed on the matter at Suzuka, he admitted that he had been deflecting attention away from ongoing discussions about his new deal.
“There has been some talks before but I didn't want to give too much information about my opportunities, my options,” he said. “So the question doesn't come that often because if I say at that time 'yes', then I will be full of questions.
“I wanted to keep it in low profile, and I'm thankful they [McLaren] give me this opportunity. We now have six races with a strong car to go and I want to leave Sauber on a high.”
Perez also said his aim was to win from the outset when he joins McLaren next season even though he admitted that it wouldn't be easy to follow in Hamilton's footsteps.
“I rate Lewis as one of the fastest drivers on the grid, so it won't be easy at all,” he said. “I know I have very big shoes to fill so it will be difficult but I will give everything I can, I will work as hard as possible to give the best result and to win championships with this great team.
“I think with McLaren there is no other option [than to go for victories]. You have to win every race, you have a car that you can win every race. It's a guarantee. McLaren is always a guarantee, so I have to work very hard. I have to give everything to my team and I'm ready to do that, once I have finished this season.”