Sergio Pérez insists rumours linking him with a move to Ferrari to replace Felipe Massa are wide of the mark.Sergio Pérez has branded speculation that he could replace Felipe Massa at Ferrari this season as “only rumours”. It’s very early to speculate. I’m really focused with my team, with Sauber. Sergio Pérez
Sauber The Mexican, who is part of Ferrari’s young driver programme, and who finished eighth in the Mebourne season-opener after starting 22nd, has been tipped as a possible replacement for Massa should Ferrari opt to end his seven-year stint with the team this season. Massa endured a torrid start to the campaign, qualifying 16th and retiring from the race after clashing with Williams’ Bruno Senna.
Pérez, however, denied the speculation had any validity. “Well, it’s only the first race of the season so it’s very early to speculate. I’m really focused with my team, with Sauber. I think we have a great car and there’s nothing more that I can say, just focused on my team, to try to make as many points as possible because we have a very competitive car and I was to trying to make the most out of the car we have.
“Melbourne was a difficult weekend for me because I had the gearbox issue so I couldn’t do a lap in qualifying so I qualified last and finished eighth. So it was a good race, and hopefully this weekend we can manage a good weekend. And as for the rumours… they are only rumours.”
Meanwhile, Massa’s former mentor at Ferrari, Michael Schumacher, leapt to the Brazilian’s defence insisting that the discrepancy between Massa’s performance in Australia and that of fifth-placed Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso was a pointer to deeper issues than poor driving. “If I look at all the winter testing I think it was very clear that the two drivers were very close together,” said Schumacher. “If you look at the optimum lap time achieved in the Barcelona tests, it’s again very close. So to see the big difference that we saw in Melbourne, I can only assume there must have been something not right for him.
“He’s been around for so long,” he added. “He’s been fighting for the championship in 2008, he’s always been up front so I don’t see any reason why he should not be capable of doing so in the future. I trust he will do so, and that the team will do their utmost to give him the support that he needs.”