Perez adjusting to McLaren life
Sergio Perez was given a flavour of the enormity of the task that faces him with McLaren when he addressed the workforce for the first time.
On a visit to the McLaren Technology Centre for his maiden round of media engagements as a driver for the Woking-based team, the 22-year-old later spoke to all 550 members of staff.
It was a daunting experience for the young Mexican, who has considerable shoes to fill given he replaces Lewis Hamilton, but he passed with flying colours and was given a standing ovation.
Although not Perez's first visit to the MTC since it was announced he would take over from Hamilton at the end of September - he has been for a seat fitting and simulator work - he concedes he has yet to come to terms with the fact he is driving for McLaren.
"It is going to take some getting used to," said Perez.
"It's certainly not hit me yet, to realise I am driving for the best team in the world, that you are part of the best team. It might take me some time.
"But I'm obviously very excited to start my new job with McLaren. It is incredible to finally wear the kit, to be with the team.
"Today I met the entire race team, so it has been a very special day. It made me feel very proud to speak to them, proud to be part of such a great family, such a close family.
"Everybody loves working for this team and for me it's very special to be part of it.
"Looking at them, the scale of the team is unbelievable. To realise all those people are working for you, for the same target, to give you the very best opportunity to win because everybody at the factory is hungry for winning.
"This is something you feel as soon as you walk into the factory.
"But I am really motivated. I am so much looking forward and this is a great opportunity for myself to show what I can do in a top team."
Perez has confirmed he will continue to reside in Switzerland rather than move to England to be closer to the team.
However, he appreciates given the increase in commitments that comes with being a McLaren driver, he will have to cut back on trips to his homeland.
"I won't move to the UK at the moment, I will stay in Switzerland as I like it there, but I will be here often with the team, close to the team," added Perez.
"Of course my main responsibility, my main goal is to win races, to be 100 per cent fit for every single race.
"So it's extremely important to reduce the travelling as much as possible, to be focused on the team, to give my very best to the team. That is the target.
"Other than that, you need a very good balance in your personal life to be able to give everything, so whenever I do have some to myself I will choose whether to go back (to Mexico) or I stay at home.
"My priority right now is to give my maximum for the rest of the year."
Although on the podium three times last season with Sauber, Perez ended it in ignominious fashion with a run of six successive races without a point, remarkably since confirmation he would be driving for McLaren.
With just over two months' work ahead of him before he lines up on the grid for the season-opening race in Melbourne on March 17, Perez insists such a barren spell counts for nothing as he targets the world title.
"The past is the past and obviously I've learned quite a lot from that. I take the positives, and now I've a new challenge ahead of me," said Perez.
"We have to deliver, to win. The target is not simply to score points or podiums, but to win, to win the championship because when you come to McLaren you have the opportunity to do that."
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