F1 » 19 April 2013
Perez feels pressure, but not bothered by criticism
Sergio Perez claims that, while he is feeling the pressure to perform at McLaren, he will not allow last week's words from Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton to affect him.
Sergio Perez says that he is not going to allow criticism of his performance in last weekend's Chinese Grand Prix to affect that way he goes racing for the rest of the 2013 F1 season.
The Mexican, who is just three races into his high-profile association with McLaren, was slammed by both Kimi Raikkonen and the man he replaced in Woking, Lewis Hamilton, for some overly robust defending during the Shanghai event, but was also told by team principal Martin Whitmarsh that he needed to be more aggressive.
Perez insisted that it can sometimes be difficult to strike a balance between racing for position and knowing when to concede due to the varying strategies being imposed by this year's Pirelli tyres, but insisted that he was not going to let the comments affect his season.
"I find it quite amazing that, having had two good weekends in terms of maximising the car's potential, after one bad weekend, I received so many criticisms,” the 23-year old told reporters in Bahrain for this weekend's grand prix, "But, if I am totally honest, I am not bothered about it. I think this is quite normal for a team like McLaren. I am here to do my job and I will try my best this weekend and the next 16 weekends."
Although his driving standards were criticised last weekend, Perez was also warned by Whitmarsh that he needs to 'get his elbows out' and fight for position in future rounds. The Mexican, however, believes that the issue surrounds picking the right fight.
"It's difficult to judge when you can be aggressive and when not," he admitted, revealing that he had discussed the matter with Whitmarsh between races, "When you are on a different strategy and mainly looking after the tyres, the worst thing you can do is fight someone next to you who is on a different strategy, who is two or three seconds faster than you. So you are not fighting that guy, you are fighting someone who is behind you. It is a difficult balance to judge."
McLaren's poor start to the season has set both Perez and veteran team-mate Jenson Button on the back foot over the opening three rounds, but the Mexican's haul of just two points – from ninth place in Malaysia – has raised further questions about his signing by the Woking team. With several contenders to replace Hamilton for 2013, many believe that Perez's Mexican connections may have swung the decision in his favour when Nico Hulkenberg's late-season form suggested that he may have been the better bet.
Having spoken pre-season of his ambition of winning the world championship in his first season at McLaren, the former Sauber pilot is finding things a little tougher than he expected but, despite that, he remains confident that things will turn around.
"I have definitely felt the pressure,” Perez confessed, “At McLaren, everyone is watching your performance - in every single practice session, every single race.
"Jenson has been extremely difficult to beat [and], in China, I was quite off the pace from him. I never got close to him. With the car we have, he is doing an extremely good job, you have to say.
"But I want to beat everyone, not only Jenson. To be successful, you have to win. That is what I want. It's normal. When you come to McLaren you are expected to come and win. I am the first one hungry for success. I am trying to do my best and, sooner or later, I will have success with this team."
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