US GP: McLaren try to help Sergio Perez find new race seat

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer in Austin, Texas
Sergio Perez 'shocked' at McLaren sacking

McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh says he is trying to help Sergio Perez find a drive in Formula 1 after dropping him for next season.

Perez has criticised McLaren for giving him little time to find a drive after replacing him with Kevin Magnussen.

Whitmarsh says he has recommended Perez to Force India and Lotus, who both have seats available for 2014.

"There is no seat closed to him and we can have no accusations we made the decision too late," Whitmarsh said.

Perez has been tipped for a drive at Force India, who sources say are on the point of re-signing Nico Hulkenberg, who left them for the Sauber team for this season.

Perez has a reputed $10m [£6.2m] to help fund a seat, although sources say he expects a salary to come out of that.

The 23-year-old has also spoken about the possibility of returning to Sauber, for whom he raced in 2011 and '12 before joining McLaren.

Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado - who has a budget of £30m from his home country to fund a drive - will go to either Lotus or Sauber, while it appears that Scot Paul Di Resta will lose his place in F1 at the end of this season.

Whitmarsh added: "I am trying to help him [Perez] get a drive. People say our decision was terribly late, but what I have said to him is to stand back from it a bit.

"I've told him the Ferrari seats have gone, the same with Mercedes, Red Bull and Toro Rosso, and in truth he wasn't in the frame for any of those so he hasn't lost a seat.

"At the time Williams had a seat, but that has now gone, but there is a Lotus seat, and one at Sauber, Force India, Caterham and Marussia.

"So I have rung Force India and I have rung Lotus. They both do a good job and I have recommended him because he deserves to be in Formula 1.

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"He is an exciting driver, and I don't want to talk about why we didn't re-sign him.

"I would rather say we saw such great potential in Kevin that we decided to sign Kevin.

"It was not about what Checo [Perez] did wrong. What Checo did wrong was that Kevin existed. Kevin was part of our [driver development] programme.

"If you go up and down the pit lane and speak to the knowledgeable people they will say Kevin is the most exciting young driver not in F1.

"Now I went up and down the pit lane [to speak to people about a deal for Magnussen] and no one wanted to do it, so we went for it."

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