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GP Week : Issue 146
Rumours about Sergio Perez’s future in a Ferrari seat sprung to life in the Sepang paddock again on Sunday after the Mexican claimed a sensational second place finish at the wheel of his Sauber C31. Having come so close to overhauling eventual victor Fernando Alonso for the win, speculation has intensified that he could replace the ailing Felipe Massa later in the year. When asked by GPWEEK after the race if he had discussed his immediate Ferrari future with team principal Stefano Domenicali on the podium, Perez insisted he was focusing on Sauber for the year. “No, no, I only congratulated him,” responded Perez. “As a team they did a great job. And for me, my full commitment is with my team, with Sauber F1 team. It’s only the second race of the season and there’s still a long way to go so we have to keep improving, especially because we are a small team, so for us, it’s getting closer to development, the others can improve more so it’s important we remain focused. Obviously it’s only rumours but no, I will stay with Sauber for the whole season.” His potential future team-mate Fernando Alonso insisted Perez had the talent to win, but echoed the Mexican’s comments: “At the moment, as Sergio said, he is concentrated on Sauber, which is the obligation on the contract side,” began Fernando. “Ferrari’s Driver Academy is doing a great job with young talents and I think if Sergio is in the Academy it’s because Ferrari saw big talent in this guy. Today, the victory was not possible, but I think a win will come sooner rather than later for Sergio.” Given Ferrari’s questionable history of replacement drivers in the recent past, when Luca Badoer and Giancarlo Fisichella struggled to perform after replacing Felipe Massa during 2009, it’s understandable the Scuderia may be reluctant to plant Perez in as Alonso’s team-mate without the chance of extensive testing. “We need to stay close to Felipe at the moment. It’s a difficult time where we need to find the way for him to get confident with this car,” said Domenicali. “The problem is that this car is quite difficult, it’s not easy. It can be very good, but it can be very difficult to drive. “I think we showed that situation today. In certain conditions, if you have a certain driving style you can be very good. In other conditions you can destroy the tyres. At this moment the priority for me is to have the protection of the team around Felipe.” PEREZ DENIES 2012 FERRARI SWITCH Mexican ace to stay at Sauber till the end of the season 3 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> NEWS