Sergio Perez's manager Adrian Fernandez has insisted that the Mexican has earned his drive with McLaren on merit, and that he isn't paying for the chance to race alongside Jenson Button in 2013.

Perez was announced as Lewis Hamilton's replacement on Friday and will join the team next season having impressed many with his performances while driving for Sauber.

The Mexican secured his drive with the Swiss team thanks in no small part to the backing of billionaire Carlos Slim and his telecommunications company Telmex but former Champ Car turned sportscar racer Fernandez said money wasn't behind the deal.

"Sergio is an unbelievable driver and he has earned his place at McLaren," Fernandez said. "He is not bringing money to the team. He has been hired to race. His performances earned him this position and that made my job easier because people were interested in him.

"We obviously owe a huge amount of thanks to Peter Sauber and his team, who gave Sergio the opportunity to compete in Formula One and show what he can do. I know that Sergio will be putting forth all his effort to finish on the highest note he can for them this year.

"It has been very enjoyable to work with McLaren, and I have to take my hat off to Martin Whitmarsh, team principal, and everyone that we worked with to make this deal possible. It took a lot of work and I was very impressed with the level of professionalism from Martin and his team and I have to thank all of them."

Fernandez said he was looking forward to his new role working alongside Perez, and said he was sure that the youngster can be a championship winner in future.

"I have been a successful driver and a successful team owner and now, with this, I hope I can be a successful manager and do a fantastic job for Sergio so he can really dedicate himself to racing," he said. "Then I can take care of the other areas which, to be honest, are the areas that I have been doing all of my life. I think it's a good combination, and I definitely think we have a potential World Champion in our hands."

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh meanwhile agreed that the Mexican is capable of going all the way to the top.

"In Sergio we have someone who is very young, he is only 22, very raw, but a fantastic natural talent," he told Sky Sports. "I've been watching him for a few years, obviously he came into Formula 1 last year, did a fastest lap in Monaco last year and had some stunning podiums this year for Sauber.

"Most people accept that he is the rising star of Formula 1 - so the challenge for us is to develop him before Australia next year and see if we can make him a World Champion."



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