Sergio Perez: 2013 season with McLaren damaged my F1 career

Sergio Perez believes his season with McLaren in 2013 was damaging for his reputation in Formula 1

Sergio Perez: 2013 season with McLaren damaged my F1 career

The Mexican was signed to replace Lewis Hamilton off the back of a 2012 campaign where he scored three podiums for Sauber, but his arrival coincided with a slump in form for McLaren and he was dropped after just one season.

Perez, who cut his ties to Ferrari to take the McLaren drive, said it has been hard work to repair the damage that 2013 season did to his career.

"At that time, McLaren was winning for a couple of years already - it was the team to be at," Perez told reporters at Spa on Thursday ahead of this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix.

"Obviously in hindsight, it damaged quite a bit my reputation because when a big team gets rid of you after a year, it damages your reputation in the sport.

"But I believe my results in the past year and this year if I have strong results, then the opportunity could come back in the future to go to a top team."

Perez added he still has close links to Ferrari, and he believes he could have eventually landed a race drive with the Italian outfit if he had not taken the McLaren offer.

"The relationship with Ferrari is still good," he said, claiming he has not given up on wearing the team's famous red colours one day.

"In the past I was really close to drive for the team. In F1 you never know what can happen.

"I had to stay at Sauber for one more year [2013] and then go to Ferrari, but then the opportunity with McLaren came."

Perez said he understood why Ferrari opted to retain Kimi Raikkonen for 2016, despite a couple of tough seasons for the Finn.

"I wasn't surprised - Ferrari wants some stability now with so many changes they've had in the past," he said.

"The season for Kimi has been very up and down and he's been very unlucky as well.

"I think they have big plans for next year."

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