Lewis Hamilton believes Sergio Perez is already feeling the pressure at McLaren in the wake of his rather low key start to the 2013 F1 season.
Perez came under a lot of criticism following the race in China last weekend, with Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen both voicing disapproval at some overly robust defending during the Shanghai event.
Speaking ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix this Sunday, Hamilton added though, that Perez should really find things easier than he did when he joined McLaren back in 2007, given the Mexican already has two seasons in F1 under his belt.
“There is a lot of pressure when you are in such a strong and powerful team like that. It's not easy - just as it is here [at Mercedes]. The team relies heavily on you, on just those two drivers to pull those results out and if you don't you feel it. He [Perez] looks like an individual who feels it,” Hamilton told Reuters
“I would say, however, it was easier for him [making his debut with McLaren than it was for me] because he's been racing already in F1 so he knows what it's all about. He knows what it's like with the first corner. I had no understanding what it was going to be like until I got here.”
Meanwhile, in a separate interview with the official F1 site, Hamilton admitted, based on the form of Mercedes and McLaren in 2012, he didn't think his new team would be ahead of his old one so soon.
“Definitely not. That is probably the biggest surprise - where we are in relation to them,” Hamilton continued. “The McLaren at the end of last year was awesome - the quickest car on the grid - and usually if you have the quickest car and there are not massive changes in the regulations you carry that into the next year. So it should, again, be a quick and awesome car, but for some reason - I don't know why - it hasn't happened that way.
“But that is not my concern anymore! And take Mercedes: they had a car that was nowhere, and look - we had a pole position last weekend! What a great feeling that was - it is a beautiful car to drive.”
So what does he think has gone wrong at McLaren?
“I don't really know - I haven't even spoken to the drivers about what is happening there. It surely has something to do with the downforce on the car. It was there all last year but probably they tweaked something,” Hamilton replied. “I thought that the car looked the same, but I was told that they've changed the car completely. They've probably made some big decisions which they thought would translate into big gains, but that hasn't happened. Actions like that are not unusual with McLaren. I have experienced that in the past, particularly in 2009 and in 2010 as well.
“So it's not unheard of that they make drastic changes. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.”
Given many thought Hamilton had made a bad decision to switch to Mercedes, the Englishman conceded it is 'nice' to have shown it wasn't such a bad move.
“It is good to walk around with my head up and smile at all those who have helped me in my decision and gave me the opportunity. I also feel good about myself. I really thought it through and it is great to see now that the team is doing so well and that I can contribute to that success,” he concluded.