Perez no longer a pay driver - Whitmarsh

Sauber Motorsport AG

29 September 2012 by Ryan Wood

Sergio Perez is no longer a pay driver, nor was he chosen to replace Lewis Hamilton because of his commercial value, insists McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh.

The Mexican driver is backed by the world's richest man, Carlos Slim and his company Telemex, which is the largest telecommunications company in Mexico.

Since the announcement that Perez will join the Woking team in 2013, it's been speculated that the 22-year-old was chosen to lure Telemex to McLaren as a title sponsor in the event Vodafone scale back their involvement as has recently been suggested.

Whitmarsh though says he and the team haven't even considered the commercial benefits of the deal, insisting Perez was chosen because he is the "most exciting young talent" currently on the grid.

"He [Perez] is not a pay driver, he is being paid a lot of money," Whitmarsh told The F1 Show on Friday evening.

"Sponsorship was not a factor, we picked Sergio because he is the most exciting young talent in Formula One," he added.

"Do I believe there will be some exciting commercial opportunities in the future? Yes. Have we looked at them yet? No."