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'Sergio lacks nothing' - Whitmarsh
Hamilton is leaving to join Mercedes at the end of the season, with Perez replacing him after two years with Sauber. Despite Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo having said Perez is not ready for a Ferrari drive, Whitmarsh said his performances this season which have seen him score three podiums for Sauber are proof he can deliver at a big 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."
With Perez becoming Jenson Button's team-mate, Whitmarsh believes McLaren has "the perfect two-pronged driver line-up" for 2013.
"Uniting Sergio alongside Jenson [Button] will give us a very broad base of driver ability. Jenson is one of motorsport's greatest ambassadors, and his unique blend of prodigious speed and canny race-craft makes him formidably well-armed to fight for victory on any grand prix circuit in the world. While Sergio is still developing his palette of skills, we're convinced that he's not only talented and quick, but also that he's willing and eager to learn.
"He's perfectly poised to develop into a world championship challenger. His addition to the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team provides us with the perfect two-pronged driver line-up for the new season."
Whitmarsh also paid tribute to Hamilton, thanking him for his success with the team having become world champion in 2008.
"Finally, it's entirely appropriate that I should take this opportunity to pass on our thanks to Lewis [Hamilton]. He wrote a huge chapter of his life and career with us, and was, and always will be, a fine member of an exclusive club: the McLaren world champions' club.
"It goes without saying that we all wish him well for the future, just as it also goes without saying that we hope and believe that Sergio, too, will become a member of that exclusive club before too long."
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