Signing with McLaren for just one season, Sergio Perez reckons that move “damaged my reputation in Formula 1” and cost him a shot at a Ferrari drive.
Perez entered Formula 1 in 2011 with Sauber with the Hinwil team’s connections to Ferrari meaning Perez was also handed a place in the Scuderia’s driver academy.
But despite the team’s ties to Ferrari, and rumours linking the Mexican driver to the team, he opted to sign with McLaren for 2013.
That year was a disaster.
Although Perez scored points in 11 grands prix, he didn’t reach the podium – neither did his team-mate Jenson Button.
But while Button remained with McLaren, Perez was dropped in favour of Kevin Magnussen.
“It didn’t work out because basically McLaren was in quite bad shape,” he told Formula 1’s Beyond the Grid.
“I was partnering Jenson Button, a World Champion, and coming to his team.
“It didn’t work out because we didn’t have any performance in the car. We were the sixth fastest team that year so we didn’t even make it onto the podium.
“With the level of experience I had, I struggled to get the most out for the car.”
He added: “I think probably given how McLaren was at that time that ride came just at the wrong moment for me.
“If you go back to 2012 I was a Ferrari member, I was going to get a contract for 2014. I had to say one more year with Sauber and then get the ride with Ferrari.
“I went to Maranello, and discussed with Domenicali, he told me ‘let’s do a pre-contract for 2014’.
“At that time Mercedes was interested, Ferrari was and McLaren so I was in a really strong position back then. And I thought to myself ‘I need to get into a competitive car because I can win the title’.
“So the opportunity with McLaren came. They were winning races and fighting for titles for five years so how could you say no. It was an obvious thing.”
The Racing Point driver reckons that move to McLaren cost him dearly.
“I had to say basically goodbye to the Ferrari academy and I went to McLaren,” he revealed.
“I think the mistake there was to sign a one-year deal. My management at the time didn’t do a solid job with the contract.
“That was a sad thing, I think that has damaged my reputation in Formula 1.”