Sergio Perez is good enough to make an immediate impact for his new team next season, according to McLaren, which pairs the Mexican with Jenson Button in 2013.
While not unexpected once Lewis Hamilton had confirmed that he would be moving from Woking to join Mercedes, Perez's signing has raised a few eyebrows around the F1 fraternity, sectors of which believe that Nico Hulkenberg or Paul di Resta may have been better options.
Those views echo that of Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo, who refused to countenance the thought of the Sauber driver replacing Felipe Massa on account of his inexperience. The 22-year old, who is coming to the end of his second year in the top flight, has been a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy since his graduation, but will turn in his card when he joins McLaren ahead of the 2013 campaign.
Maranello's loss is Woking's gain according to McLaren sporting director Sam Michael, who insists that there is nothing to prevent Perez finally putting a tick in the win column at next season's Australian Grand Prix. The former GP2 Series runner-up has already posted two second places, coming close to beating Fernando Alonso in Malaysia and hunting down Hamilton at Monza in 2012.
"In terms of expecting him to come out and win the first race [of 2013], if the car is fast enough and he's competitive enough against his team-mate, then I'm sure he will do that,” Michael told a media phone-in ahead of the Indian Grand Prix, "The expectation will be on him to perform to the top level of a McLaren driver, and he is someone who wants to make the next step.
“Only time will tell where he will be next year, [but] he's going to be quite keen to perform for McLaren - and we've got high hopes for him."