SURREY, United Kingdom – Vodafone McLaren Mercedes announced Friday that 22-year-old Sergio Perez will join the team beginning in 2013.
Perez replaces former World Champion Lewis Hamilton, who announced Friday that he is leaving McLaren for the Mercedes team in 2013.
In just two short years, Perez has made a stunning impression in Formula One, taking a string of hugely impressive giant-killing podium finishes while combining a deft turn of speed with considerable maturity, and showcasing the potential ability to become one of the biggest stars in global motorsport.
Perez will partner with 2009 World Champion Jenson Button at McLaren in 2013.
“I’m thrilled and delighted to have become a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver. The McLaren name is one of the greatest in the history of Formula One,” Perez said. “For more than 40 years McLaren has been a team that every racing driver has aspired to drive for – I was brought up on the great stories of Ayrton Senna’s many world championship triumphs for McLaren – and I’m truly honored that they’ve chosen me to partner Jenson from 2013 onwards.
“I’ve spent the 2012 season working very hard to demonstrate my potential, but I’ve always remained humble and focused. I am, and always will be, extremely grateful to Peter [Sauber] and everybody at the Sauber Formula 1 team for their belief in me, and for giving me the chance to race in Formula One.”
Perez is the fifth Mexican driver to contest a round of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship – following in the footsteps of Moises Solana (1963-1968), Ricardo Rodriguez (1961-1962), Pedro Rodriguez (1963-1968) and Hector Rebaque (1977-1979).
His route into motorsport was always assured: his father Antonio was a Mexican Formula Vee champion and his older brother Antonio Perez was a champion in Mexico’s Corona NASCAR series.
After cutting his teeth in karting in Mexico and junior single-seaters in North America, Sergio moved to Europe in 2005, aged 15, to compete in Formula BMW. After two seasons, he quickly graduated through A1 Grand Prix, and completed two seasons of British Formula 3 (he was the National Class winner in 2007 with 14 race victories, and won four races and finished fourth in the Championship Class in 2008) and GP2, initially contesting the GP2 Asia series in 2008 before spending two seasons in the principal GP2 category in 2009 and 2010.
His second GP2 campaign (2010) resulted in five race victories (at Monaco, Silverstone, Hockenheim, Spa-Francorchamps and Yas Marina) and the runner-up spot in the championship behind the more experienced Pastor Maldonado.
Perez then graduated to Formula One with Sauber in 2011, partnering Kamui Kobayashi. He finished seventh in his first-ever grand prix (Melbourne) before both the team’s cars were disqualified for a technical infringement. His best result in his maiden season was a seventh place, in the Santander British Grand Prix.
For 2012 he remained at Sauber, completing a series of stunning drives – impressive second-place finishes at Sepang and Monza and a strong third-placed finish in Montreal – to cement his position as one of Formula 1’s brightest new hopes.
He currently lies ninth in the Formula One world championship standings, with 66 world championship points from seven points-finishes.