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Perez impresses on debut day

EVENT COUNTDOWN

ALBERT PARK

12-15 MARCH 2015

Sergio Perez came, took a first look and then shone like a star of the future on Friday when he drove to the eighth-fastest time in free practice for Sunday's Qantas Australian Grand Prix.

The Mexican, who only turned 21 in January, is the youngest of the four Formula One rookies making their debuts at Albert Park this weekend, but behaved with measured maturity in and out of his Sauber car.

"To be eighth, honestly, for me, it was a great day - a really good first day and I am very happy," he said when he faced the media for the first time at an official news conference. "But the important work is tomorrow."

The highly-rated youngster from Guadalajara, where a crowd of more than 150,000 turned out to see him drive a demonstration car earlier in the streets this year, did his home city and his nation proud.

His performance saw him end up sandwiched between Latin America's two most experienced drivers - seventh-placed Felipe Massa in a Ferrari and ninth-placed Rubens Barrichello, both long-serving Brazilians from Sao Paulo - on an auspicious afternoon.

"It was not so good for me in the morning because of the traffic and the Pirelli tyres behaved differently than I expected, but I worked all day to understand it and it went well in the afternoon," he said.

"With the tyres, it was not just the first lap that mattered because you had to run a few laps before you could get the best from them and I learned about this today. "It was tough, very tough. And it was difficult to get the most from the car in these conditions.

"But although I am happy, it is not important because the most important thing is to do well if I can in qualifying tomorrow and then in the race I want to do well again. That is what matters - not really today."

Summing up, Perez said: "I would say I had a confident, comfortable first day. It was better at the end of the session than at the start and now I want to carry on like that and do better still tomorrow and keep on going that way."

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