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Fit, focused and refreshed Perez ready to get started

31 January 2013

Sergio Perez was ahead of Jenson Button at least once in 2013, as the two drivers drove into the reception area of the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking. Perez was at the wheel of a bright orange MP4 12C Spider, while Button got to pilot the company's new P1TM prototype.

The two drivers then teamed up to draw back the sheet covering the real star of the Thursday event - the new MP4-28 car that will be McLaren's best hope of clinching the world championship in 2013, in the company's 50th year of F1 competition.

“I'm incredibly proud to be a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver," said Perez, the new boy among the McLaren line-up after taking over Lewis Hamilton's race seat at the start of the year. "Knowing that I'm driving for the team on it's 50th anniversary – that's such a special feeling.

Perez said that this had been the day he'd been building up to ever since he formally joined the team ahead of the 2013 season.

"For me, this is a great day - in fact, every day this year has been great," he said. "I've been working hard with my new team to get everything ready for the start of the 2013 season, and it's been an incredible journey to get to know this incredible organisation."

But the 23-year-old Mexican fresh in from Sauber knows that the work is just beginning if 2013 is going to be the breakthrough moment in his racing career that he's hoping for.

“Of course, I am fully aware of the steep slope ahead of me: it has already been an intense couple of weeks, getting to grips with a new team, meeting my engineers and mechanics, learning new ways of working," he said.

On top of that is the task that both he and Jenson Button have to get to grips with the new MP4-28. Although F1 car regulations have not had any major changes since 2012, and the car itself visibly looked very similar to last year's model in appearance, both drivers were insistent that it was a whole different challenge underneath with Button telling the assembled crowd of journalists that it was "completely different to last year."

Perez admitted that it was a steep learning curve ahead of him to get used to the new hardware.

"It's definitely going to be an exciting few weeks: although I've been racing in F1 for the past two seasons, every racing car is different and it always takes a little time to adjust," he said.

"Of course, learning all about a brand new car – something I'll need to do with just six days of on-track testing. It's a big challenge," he agreed. "Firstly, I'll need to understand the different characteristics of the car; secondly, I'll learn how to best work with my engineers to make the car suit my personal driving style.

"It's going to be an interesting and exciting journey," he added.

Perez explained that the preparation for all this had begin months ago, starting with getting his own personal fitness to new heights.

"I'm more prepared than I've ever been for the start of a new season," he said. "I feel extremely fit, focused and refreshed – there's still a lot to do, but my aims are to feel confident, comfortable and ready to race by the time I land in Australia in just a few weeks' time."

Jenson Button also has a big change to get used to this year - a brand new team mate.

"It's always interesting and inspiring to begin working with a new face, and it already feels like a very positive working relationship," said the former world champion, who said that he empathised with Perez' feelings of being the new boy on the first day of school.

"I know from personal experience that it can feel initially daunting when you walk into the McLaren Technology Centre for the very first time, but I also remember how quickly I was made to feel at home and how welcoming I found the whole McLaren family. I'm sure Checo already feels very much at ease here."


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