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Force India pairing has a lot to prove, admits Perez
14 December 2013
Force India's latest signing believes that, while the team has a lot to prove after changing its line-up for 2014, it also has the hunger to achieve great things.
Speaking shortly after he was confirmed alongside Nico Hulkenberg for next season, the Mexican told journalists that he was looking forward to forming one of the strongest driver pairings on the grid and taking Force India back into contention for good results.
“I think we have a very strong driver line-up for next year, and definitely one of the hungriest ones!” Perez said, “We both have a lot to prove and we're both very young. I'm looking forward to a very big challenge.
“We all know Nico is one of the best drivers out there, so it's definitely a great motivation for me to partner him. Last year, I partnered a world champion and I expect Nico to be on that level. It will be a great challenge, first of all to move the team forward to a better position in the constructors' championship and then to fight hopefully for podiums and victories, who knows. That has to be the target.
“We know our limitations, but the team has very high targets for next year and I, together with Nico, am part of those. I'm looking forward to working really hard to bring the team as high up as possible. The whole combination - the team and the drivers - are very hungry. We have a lot to prove. It could be a great year for the team. It's a new challenge for everyone - new rules - and anything can happen.”
With his exit from McLaren only being confirmed late in the season, there was a period when it looked as though Perez may lose his place in F1 altogether, but the Mexican revealed that he had been talking to Force India owner Vijay Mallya for some time.
“I want to thank Vijay for the trust he's put in me since the first time we met,” the 23-year old intoned, “He always told me that he was interested and he was straightforward - that made the negotiations a lot easier.
“It's no secret that the decision from McLaren came quite late so, as soon as it came, we started talking to Force India - it was always my first option. Luckily, I succeeded on this one and I'm happy to join the team. I also found out that Nico was coming to the team as well, so that was an extra motivation to join. The team was always very straightforward to me and to my management, [and] it just took a couple of weeks to get everything in place.”
With Sauber also thought to be among Perez's options for 2014, many will see Force India as an inferior choice, given that the teams effectively swapped positions in terms of potential by the end of the 2013 campaign. The Mexican, however, is among those that believe the enforced switch of tyre resulting from the drama at Silverstone adversely affected Force India's form.
“Before the tyres were changed this year, the team showed great pace, so I'm very happy to join the team and think we have a strong season ahead of us,” he insisted, “I've been watching the team [and] they've been very consistent in the midfield, probably the most consistent in the last few years.
“I believe that, right now, with the change in regulations, we can be a very strong team and we can move forward. I think there is a great opportunity for the whole team, not only myself, to put everything together in place to move forward and start fighting the big teams. I think there is big potential.”