Sergio Perez says McLaren switch cost him 2014 Ferrari seat
Sergio Perez says his decision to move to McLaren for the 2013 season cost him a 2014 seat at Ferrari and also damaged his reputation.
The Mexican driver moved to the British squad from Sauber following Lewis Hamilton's departure to Mercedes, joining Jenson Button. At that time, McLaren were a frontrunning team having finished second in the Constructors' Standings in 2010 and 2011 and third in 2012.
But Perez's moved coincided with a drop in performance and the team fell to fifth the year he joined. Perez departed the team after a single season, replaced by Kevin Magnussen.
"It didn’t work out because basically McLaren was in quite bad shape," he told Formula 1’s Beyond the Grid podcast.
"It didn’t work out because we didn’t have any performance in the car. We were the sixth fastest team that year so we didn’t even make it onto the podium.
"I think probably given how McLaren was at that time, the ride came just at the wrong moment for me."
Before his switch, Perez was a member of Ferrari's junior programme and says he had a 'pre-contract' to race for the team in 2014, but the lure of McLaren was too much and it ultimately cost him a future Ferrari deal.
"If you go back to 2012 I was a Ferrari member, I was going to get a contract for 2014. I had to say one more year with Sauber and then get the ride with Ferrari.
"I went to Maranello, and discussed with [Team Principal Stefano] Domenicali, he told me 'let’s do a pre-contract for 2014'.
"At that time Mercedes was interested, Ferrari was and McLaren so I was in a really strong position back then. And I thought to myself 'I need to get into a competitive car because I can win the title'.
"So the opportunity with McLaren came. They were winning races and fighting for titles for five years so how could you say no. It was an obvious thing."
He added: "[It meant] I had to say basically goodbye to the Ferrari academy and I went to McLaren.
"I think the mistake there was to sign a one-year deal. My management at the time didn’t do a solid job with the contract. That was a sad thing, I think that has damaged my reputation in Formula 1."
Ferrari went on to re-sign Kimi Raikkonen to partner Fernando Alonso for 2014 after Felipe Massa departed for Williams.