Force India believes Sergio Perez went to McLaren too early in F1

Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley feels Sergio Perez's unhappy year in Formula 1 with McLaren was too much too soon for the Mexican

Force India believes Sergio Perez went to McLaren too early in F1

Following a superb second season in F1 with Sauber in 2012, Perez was signed by McLaren as replacement for Lewis Hamilton for the following year after the Briton opted to join Mercedes.

By his own admission Perez concedes the year in Woking was damaging to his career, and he was replaced for 2014 by then McLaren junior Kevin Magnussen.

But after being taken under Force India's wing, the 25-year-old has steadily rebuilt his confidence, going on to claim only the team's third podium - and his second with them - at the last race in Russia.

"It's about having the confidence and him feeling comfortable within the team environment," Fernley told Autosport.

"For Checo, his time at McLaren was just an unfortunate experience. That move probably came a little bit too early.

"You can't ever underestimate McLaren, they're a great team, but from our side we knew we had a good talent - it was just a case of nurturing it.

"Overall his strength is his race pace, but his qualifying is getting stronger and stronger.

"There is nothing to choose between him and Nico [Hulkenberg, team-mate] in the race."

With both drivers already signed up for next season - Hulkenberg penning a two-year extension - Fernley feels the team's line-up suits it perfectly.

"The contrasting talents between both drivers give us that ability to deliver quite a strong car," said Fernley.

"It's their different skill bases which makes them good for the team and allows us to lean on one or the other depending on what circuit we're on, which for us, is perfect.

"For them to be so close, even in qualifying in Russia they were separated by fractions, they're a good combination."

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