Perez came 'very close' to 2014 Ferrari drive

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Force India’s Sergio Perez reveals he was “very close” to drive for Ferrari in 2014 but insists he has no regrets to have accepted McLaren’s offer to replace Lewis Hamilton instead.

A former Maranello protégé, Perez made his F1 debut in 2011 with affiliated team Sauber where he showed flashes of exciting potential for a couple of seasons.

With Ferrari confirming Kimi Raikkonen for 2016, the Mexican was asked by reporters in Spa whether he had given up on the idea of racing for the Prancing Horse in the future: “No, not at all,” he replied.

“The relationship with them is still good. In the past, I was really close to drive for the team. In Formula One, you never know what can happen.

“It was very close. At that point, [former Ferrari team principal] Stefano [Domenicali] told me to start the talks for 2014. I had to stay at Sauber one more year and go to Ferrari. But then the opportunity with McLaren came.”

Unfortunately for Perez, his arrival at Woking coincided with the British team’s sudden dip in performance and the Mexican was shown the exit door after only one season to make room for Kevin Magnussen.

Despite the abrupt setback, the former Ferrari Driver Academy member maintains his decision was the best at that time and remains hopeful of having another shot at a top drive in the near future.

“McLaren had been winning for several years, so it was definitely the team to be in. But it turned out that it was not the right team.

“Obviously in hindsight, it damaged quite a bit my reputation because when a big team gets rids of you after one year, it really hurts your reputation in the sport.

“But, looking at my results for the past year and this year, if I have strong results, the opportunity to go back to a top team could come again.”

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