10 January 2014
Force India 'always my first option to stay in F1', says Perez
Sergio Perez said that as soon as he found out he was being let go by McLaren at the end of 2013, his sights were firmly set on joining Force India.
Sergio Perez has insisted that Force India is very much the place he wants to be in 2014, and that the team was his unequivocal first choice as soon as he found out that he wouldn't be staying at McLaren for a second season.
"Sahara Force India was always my first option," Perez told the Formula1.com website this week. "It is a very good team and in the same way as me, it is hungry for success.
"It was important not to just be in F1, but to be part of a team that is hungry and ambitious," he continued. "Force India is a team that has constantly progressed - and a lot recently when they finished sixth in the constructors' championship - so I think this is a great opportunity for me."
As for how is came about, Perez revealed that the negotiations took less than a month to fall into place.
"The discussions with Sahara Force India started around the time of the race in Austin [in November]," he recalled. "I attended a couple of meetings and held several telephone conferences before everything came to a positive agreement.
"The official announcement that I was going to race for Force India then came on the 10th of December at the Mexican Embassy in London with Vijay Mallya. It was a quite emotional moment," he added.
But the 23-year-old also said that he didn't regret his ill-fated year at McLaren, despite how things turned out for him.
"McLaren is a great team and I will always respect them," he said. "[Team principal Martin Whitmarsh] is a great friend and I wish him and the team the very best
"I think I'm a better driver after the year with McLaren, and being strong in every area is, and always will be, my focus," he mused. "Unfortunately, for various reasons, the season did not go as expected and we ended up without a podium.
"The situation I am in now is different, but it's also exciting," he added. "I do not see myself as in a 'holding pattern,' and this is part of my journey in F1. I strongly believe that my success is yet to be seen."
Moving to Force India this season puts him alongside Nico Hulkenberg, who is moving back to the team after a year with Sauber - which is where Perez was before his brief move to Woking. It should make for one of the most exciting and competitive pairings on the grid in 2014.
"Nico is a very competitive and experienced driver," agreed Perez. "I hope to learn as much from Nico as I expect him to learn from me, so eventually we will embark on a steep, two-way learning curve - hopefully with eyebrow raising results!"
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