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Top British Formula One team dumps local race ace

Guadalajara racer Sergio Perez will leave Formula One team McLaren after a single season that he spent struggling in an uncompetitive car.

Perez confirmed his departure this week in a gracious statement in which he thanked McLaren for giving him the opportunity to work with a top team.

“I would like to wish the team the very best in the future. I will always be a fan of McLaren,” the 23-year-old said.
In earlier interviews with Mexican newspapers, however, Perez hinted that he was an easy scapegoat for McLaren’s wretched season when the car failed to live up to expectations in race after race.   

McLaren endured their worst season since 1980, with two fifth place finishes – one for Perez and teammate Jenson Button apiece – their best results.

McLaren has one of the highest budgets of any F1 team and even Perez admitted that it would be unthinkable for 2014 to go as badly as 2013.

Perez will compete for McLaren and “give his all” in the final two races of the season: the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, Texas this weekend and the Brazilian Grand Prix at the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo from November 22-24.

As for the future, Perez may have the option of returning to the Sauber F1 team, for whom he drove for two years before McLaren signed him.  Mexican telecommunications magnate Carlos Slim is one of the team’s backers and could wield his influence and demand that Perez replace Sauber’s current number two driver, Mexico’s Esteban Gutierrez.

Another option could be with Force India, one of the smaller teams that is looking for new drivers for next season.
If he fails to land a drive in F1, Perez may explore his options on lucrative U.S. racing circuits, probably in NASCAR, although he has driven mostly in Europe since the age of 15. Despite being guaranteed a big fan base there, the United States would be his last choice, as for some time he has made clear that his dream is to become Formula One world champion.

Jo Ramirez, a former McLaren employee who is also Mexican, told reporters this week that while Perez “has grown as a driver during his three years in Formula One, he has not grown at the same rhythm as a person.”  He criticized Perez for at times acting arrogantly and choosing to ignore the British media rather than interact with them.

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