• Pérez: ‘I feel ready to do a good job for a top team’
• Hamilton making no comment about Mercedes
Sergio Pérez, who knows a thing or two about audacious moves, flirted with the notion of joining McLaren on Thursday as Lewis Hamilton refused to discuss reports that he might be about to sign for Mercedes.
If Pérez has not caught McLaren’s eye, then the Woking-based outfit are unique among Formula One’s dozen teams. The Mexican, who came seventh on his Formula One debut last year and has driven his Sauber to three podium finishes this season, finished a thrilling second last time out in Monza.
He is ninth in the championship table with 65 points, 30 ahead of his team-mate Kamui Kobayashi, whose own pace and eye-popping overtaking manoeuvres have long since persuaded the wary to keep an eye on their mirrors.
Pérez, 22, said: “I feel ready to do a good job for a top team, to be able to fight for the title. In that respect I feel ready.” Pérez has been linked with McLaren despite the team principal Martin Whitmarsh’s assertion that there is no Plan B if they fail to re-sign Hamilton.
The Sauber man added: “In the position I am in, when I have a good result because I am fighting for points and sometimes able to get some good podiums, it is when rumours start. There are so many rumours. Before it was Ferrari, now it is McLaren. So always when I have a good race they put me in a different team.”
Pérez has become used to being linked with Ferrari but that team’s president, Luca di Montezemolo, last week distanced himself from the speculation when he said the driver needed “more experience”. In return Pérez appeared to distance himself from the prancing horse. When asked whether his connection with Ferrari could preclude a move anywhere else he said, a little airily: “No, not really. I have a nice connection to Ferrari through the Ferrari Academy but I am just part of the academy, not part of the Ferrari team, so it does not affect me.”
Hamilton, meanwhile, was in no mood to field any more questions about his immediate future. “I am here to talk about this weekend,” he said. “I have no more news so there is no more need to even bother asking the questions you are constantly asking me. Let’s discuss something else.”
There is always a slightly surreal atmosphere in the heat of the night in Singapore. It is as if the night riders of the Marina Bay street circuit, and everyone else, are intoxicated by the sweltering humidity.
This is the annual nocturnal race, though the 1,500 halogen lamps, which seem to add to the oppressive temperatures, make it brighter than daylight in some countries. But it is more than just the heat and the late hour of the activity – we are seven hours ahead here, but everyone sticks to a European timetable.
We are also close to the season’s run-in, when speculation and rumour in this most gossipy of sports achieves an even greater intensity. And Singapore, perhaps more than any other venue, is where business folk gather and thrash out deals; Monaco for the champagne, Singapore for the dosh.
Hamilton was in a bountiful mood, though, regarding this season, compared with his subdued demeanor in Italy, after winning for the second time in three races. He is now second in the championship, 37 points behind Fernando Alonso. McLaren, it seemed, was the only team one could possibly drive for – they have won the last three races. ” We have always been a team that has been able to turn things around even if we start badly,” he said. “When we had troubles in the pit-stops we eventually got it right. You trust the people you are working with – there has to be a lot of trust in every team. When the driver is going around the track at 200mph, you have to have confidence the team has done a good job, which I have always had.”
But does he have more confidence in Mercedes? That is the question.