Calcutta/London: Mexican Sergio Perez hopes to forge a winning partnership with Germany’s Nico Hulkenberg after agreeing a multi-year deal to race for the Sahara Force India team.
Presented by Team Principal and co-owner Vijay Mallya at the Mexican ambassador’s central London residence on Thursday, the 23-year-old driver said he was hungry for success after a lean year at McLaren.
“After I left McLaren, clearly my best choice was to come to Force India, because of the whole package,” he said.
“A very hungry team, very honest people and a great teammate... everything has really inspired me.
“I think we are, without doubt, one of the strongest driver line-ups on the grid and together with Nico we can move the team forward.”
In a statement, Perez said: “This is a young team with a lot of determination and they’ve produced competitive cars for the last few years.
“It’s all change for next season with the new regulations, but I already have a good feeling about 2014. My plan now is to visit the factory and get to know everyone in the team.”
The completion of Force India’s 2014 line-up left Britain’s Paul Di Resta and Germany’s Adrian Sutil seeking new employers with only Sauber, Caterham and Marussia still having seats available.
Sutil could move to Sauber while Di Resta’s best bet could be the IndyCar series in America, where his cousin Dario Franchitti has just retired after winning the Indy 500 three times, or a return to the German touring car championship (DTM).
Perez joins after he was replaced at under-performing McLaren by Danish rookie Kevin Magnussen, 21, which left him scrambling to find a place.
His passage was eased by strong financial backing from Mexican sponsors, which one informed source put at $20.63 million a year, although Mallya was adamant money was not the determining factor.
“We haven’t chosen any one of our two drivers because of any commercial backing at all,” said Mallya. “That’s against my basic philosophy.
“His presence opens up a whole new opportunity for us, which we will exploit going forward, but that is not a pre-condition for us having selected him.”
Perez said Mexican telephone company Telmex, who have backed him throughout his career, would follow him along with other Mexican sponsors.
Mallya would not comment on whether he felt McLaren had made a mistake in letting Perez go, and the driver made clear he harboured no resentment.
“For me, there is no point in looking back,” said Perez. “I want to look forward, to be here after one year and say it was the best thing that could have happened in my career.
“It’s a great opportunity for my career… I am very thankful to McLaren as well for the opportunity they gave me, they definitely made me a better driver.