Sergio Perez reveals Ferrari ambition
Sergio Perez today helped take the wraps off the new Sauber ahead of his debut season in Formula One - and then revealed his desire to one day drive for Ferrari.
Perez is the first Mexican to compete in F1 for 30 years since Hector Rebaque, and his immediate impact has been obvious.
A year ago today Sauber unveiled a car ahead of the 2010 campaign that was devoid of sponsors; one year on and a host of names adorn the challenger for 2011, the C30, five of which are Mexican.
Personally sponsored by Telmex, Mexico's largest telecommunications company that is owned by one of the world's wealthiest men in Carlos Slim, Perez has been aided in his quest to get into F1 from the age of 15.
Now he is here last season's GP2 runner-up already has his eyes on a larger prize, in particular after recently being recruited into Ferrari's young driver development programme.
Given Ferrari also supply engines and gearboxes to Sauber, the links are clear, but Perez, who turned 21 last Wednesday, appreciates the opportunity he has been given by Sauber and the hurdles that lie ahead.
"I have to think in the present, and that for me is only Sauber," said Perez, who is from Guadalajara.
"I know I have to do well at Sauber to keep growing up in Formula One, but for the future I don't know what is going to happen.
"Obviously the dream is to one day drive for Ferrari, but now I'm at Sauber and I'm very proud to be working with such a team as them in my first season."
Given Mexico's long wait for a new star in F1, the impact in his homeland has also been significant.
"I have received big support from Mexico, because the country has waited a long time - 30 years - since there was last a Mexican in Formula One," added Perez.
"The country is very excited. All the people there follow me and every single detail of Formula One, so they are very much into F1 now.
"This is very good motivation for myself and I hope I can make my country very proud of me."
Perez maintains that despite the obvious expectancy that would come from such a following, he is not under any more pressure than he has experienced in the past.
"I feel it's extra motivation," said Perez.
"In Formula One there is pressure anyway, just as I have felt all through my career, but to have the support from my country means I simply want to do good things for my country."
The influx of sponsorship money has naturally been very welcome to a team like Sauber, who last year struggled to get names on the car in the wake of former partners BMW withdrawing from F1 at the end of 2009.
Technical director James Key insists Perez's talent was uppermost in their thoughts when they signed him as team-mate to Japanese star Kamui Kobayashi.
"Sergio did very well in GP2 in only his second season," said Key.
"It's very tough for a rookie in F1 because it is incredibly competitive at the moment, so it's a big challenge for him and for us.
"But he's trained a lot over the winter. He's extremely keen to get into the car, and he seems to be jumping at his opportunity at the moment, which is positive."
After finishing eighth in last year's constructors' championship with 44 points, team principal Peter Sauber has obviously made it clear he expects an improvement this season.
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