Sergio Perez believes he silenced his critics with his display at the Bahrain Grand Prix, adding that he never lost confidence in his ability despite his struggles.
Much was expected from the Mexican when he swapped Sauber for McLaren at the end of last season, but he has found life higher up the grid difficult as the Woking squad's MP4-28 has been off the pace of the front-runners.
After being told to "toughen up" by team principal Martin Whitmarsh in the aftermath of the Chinese GP, Perez seemed to find an extra bit of oomph in Bahrain as he claimed his best finish of the season with a sixth place.
What was probably more impressive was the fact that he didn't hold back when he came up against not only his team-mate Jenson Button, but also against the likes of Fernando Alonso of Ferrari and Red Bull's Mark Webber.
The 23-year-old Perez feels his display at Sakhir proved that he has what it takes to deliver for McLaren.
"We've been through some very difficult moments but I think this is the start of our season," he is quoted as saying by Autosport.
"I never lost my confidence, I always believed in myself.
"I've shown the critics that I can do a good job."
Having started 12th on the grid in Bahrain, Perez was given plenty of freedom to attack those ahead of him and it paid off as he made his way through the traffic with some impressive overtaking moves.
"The strategy and the pace of the car allows you to be different," he said. "You are not defending, you are attacking.
"It was a great weekend all the way through. It was a very nice surprise for us [to compete at the front]."
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