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Sergio Perez will replace Lewis Hamilton at McLaren after signing a 'multi-year deal', the team has confirmed.
With Lewis Hamilton joining Mercedes, Perez will partner Jenson Button from 2013 onwards. As a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy Perez was linked with a move to Ferrari next year after impressing during his second season for Sauber in Formula One. However, McLaren has moved to secure him as a replacement for Hamilton and Perez himself said he was "delighted" to make the move.
"I'm thrilled and delighted to have become a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver," Perez said. "The McLaren name is one of the greatest in the history of Formula 1. For more than 40 years McLaren has been a team that every racing driver has aspired to drive for - I was brought up on the great stories of Ayrton Senna's many world championship triumphs for McLaren - and I'm truly honoured that they've chosen me to partner Jenson from 2013 onwards.
"I've spent the 2012 season working very hard to demonstrate my potential, but I've always remained humble and focused. I am, and always will be, extremely grateful to Peter [Sauber] and everybody at the Sauber Formula 1 team for their belief in me, and for giving me the chance to race in Formula 1.
"In fact, they gave me the perfect opportunity to demonstrate what I can do - and I'm now equally grateful to Martin [Whitmarsh] and everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes for giving me the chance to take this next very big step in my career."
While Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said Perez wasn't ready to drive for a big team, Perez is sure he is fully prepared for the move.
"I'm under no illusion that it is indeed a very big step - as it would be for any driver - but I'm ready for it. So, while I'm still fully focused on doing my best for Sauber for the remainder of this season, I'm already massively looking forward to working with everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, and with Jenson, who's someone I've long admired as a brilliant driver and a great champion."
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh admitted that Perez is "an extremely exciting prospect" and hopes he can fulfil his potential with the team.
"On behalf of everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, I'm delighted to welcome Sergio on board," Whitmarsh said. "His performances throughout 2012 have convinced us that he's an extremely exciting prospect for the future.
"It was a string of giant-killing performances, a trio of podiums and a brilliant fastest lap in this year's Monaco Grand Prix that showed us that Sergio lacks nothing in terms of speed and commitment. We've been monitoring his progress carefully for some months - and, now that he's become part of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team, our task will be to refine and develop his abilities as his career progresses over the coming years."
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