McLaren have confirmed that Lewis Hamilton is leaving the team at the end of this season and will be replaced by Sergio Perez...
McLaren have confirmed that Lewis Hamilton is leaving the team at the end of this season and will be replaced by Sergio Perez.
As to be expected the Woking team announced on Friday morning that Hamilton, who has been associated with McLaren since he was a 13-year-old karter, is on his way out.
Hamilton's seat at the Woking outfit will be filled by rising star Perez, who has impressed many this season with his three podium results for Sauber.
"I'm thrilled and delighted to have become a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver," said the 22-year-old.
"The McLaren name is one of the greatest in the history of Formula 1. 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 honoured 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 1.
"In fact, they gave me the perfect opportunity to demonstrate what I can do - and I'm now equally grateful to Martin [Whitmarsh] and everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes for giving me the chance to take this next very big step in my career.
"I'm under no illusion that it is indeed a very big step - as it would be for any driver - but I'm ready for it. So, while I'm still fully focused on doing my best for Sauber for the remainder of this season, I'm already massively looking forward to working with everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, and with Jenson, who's someone I've long admired as a brilliant driver and a great Champion."
McLaren has welcomed Perez to the fold with team boss Martin Whitmarsh adamant that in the Mexican driver he has signed a future World Champion.
"On behalf of everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, I'm delighted to welcome Sergio on board. His performances throughout 2012 have convinced us that he's an extremely exciting prospect for the future," he said.
"It was a string of giant-killing performances, a trio of podiums and a brilliant fastest lap in this year's Monaco Grand Prix that showed us that Sergio lacks nothing in terms of speed and commitment.
"We've been monitoring his progress carefully for some months - and, now that he's become part of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team, our task will be to refine and develop his abilities as his career progresses over the coming years.
"Uniting Sergio alongside Jenson will give us a very broad base of driver ability. Jenson is one of motorsport's greatest ambassadors, and his unique blend of prodigious speed and canny race-craft makes him formidably well-armed to fight for victory on any grand prix circuit in the world.
"While Sergio is still developing his palette of skills, we're convinced that he's not only talented and quick, but also that he's willing and eager to learn."
"He's perfectly poised to develop into a world championship challenger. His addition to the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team provides us with the perfect two-pronged driver line-up for the new season.
Mercedes secure Hamilton's signature
Sauber is no rush to replace Perez