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Tapatio F1 racer raring to go

March 15, 2013

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Guadalajara native Sergio “Checo” Perez, 23, will make his debut for top British Formula One team McLaren at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on Sunday, March 17.

His replacement at team Sauber is Esteban Gutierrez, from Monterrey, making this only the second time in history that two Mexicans will be competing simultaneously in Formula One. Sauber’s former test and reserve driver, Gutierrez, 21, was promoted after Perez’s departure.

Perez made the step up to McLaren after impressing for Sauber in his first two F1 seasons, but admitted recently that his new team is still getting to grips with the car for the 2013 season.

“I think there is a lot of work to be done in the next couple of days for us and they’re very important days for the start of the season,” Perez told autosport.com. “I think we would definitely like to go into Melbourne with much more information than we have at the moment. We had a couple of difficult days with problems with getting the information from the car.”

Despite such technical setbacks, and the fact that McLaren’s car may not be as quick as its Ferrari and Lotus counterparts, Perez proved his ability when he set the fastest time on the second day of pre-season tests in Barcelona last month, beating current world champion Sebastian Vettel by 0.349 seconds.

With eight constructor’s championships and 12 driver’s championships, McLaren is the second most successful team in F1 history, after Ferrari. Perez, who only turned 23 in January, and joins former world champion Jenson Button at McLaren, insists he is not feeling the pressure.

“Of course when you are racing for McLaren you are expected to win,” he told formula1.com, “but it is motivation rather than pressure that keeps me going. All the other guys that are in a top team have already proven themselves – this is something that I still have ahead of me.”

Discussing his new team last week, Perez added, “I feel at home, it feels like a big family, everyone treats me very well … I’m at a very happy place in my career where I enjoy every day and have to work all the time.”

Fox Sports will show the Australian Grand Prix live at 1 a.m. Mexican time on Sunday, but it will be repeated in full at 8 p.m.

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