sport

Perez has his eyes on the prize

Sergio Perez is adamant his head will not be turned by his big-money move to McLaren.

On his first official day as a McLaren driver after flying in from Mexico in the morning, Perez addressed the entire 550-strong workforce at the team's Technology Centre in Woking yesterday, before being subjected to a gruelling round of media interviews which included a video link-up in which he was asked questions by fans.

Although Perez had previously visited the MTC for a seat fitting and some simulator work after ending his two-year spell with Sauber at the end of November, the day was his first real taster of life as a McLaren driver.

Perez arrived in style, at the wheel of a 195,000 top-of-the range McLaren Spyder, a car he can now comfortably afford given the multi-million pound contract he signed at the end of September.

At just 22, driving for McLaren and with such riches at his disposal, it is a change of lifestyle that could go to any young driver's head.

Perez said: "It is very easy to get used to!"

Becoming serious, he added: "It is not a problem. For me, the real changes are coming in terms of pressure, results and work."

Perez is already well aware of what is expected of him, that driving for McLaren means that anything less than a win is regarded as a bad day at the office.

Although Perez was signed up as Lewis Hamilton's replacement on the back of three podium finishes with Sauber, once he put pen to paper he ended the year with a run of six races without a point.

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 now 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."

The scale of the task at hand was not lost on Perez when he spoke to the team's personnel, although he was at least given a standing ovation to settle any nerves.

At Sauber, life was relatively straightforward, but at McLaren, Perez now realises what is at stake.

"The scale of the team is unbelievable," said Perez.

"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."