Sergio Perez has revealed that Ferrari were grooming him to drive for them for the 2014 season, but he opted to join McLaren a year earlier.
The Mexican was a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy before he joined the Ferrari-powered Sauber outfit in 2011. After a solid debut campaign, he moved up another gear as he scored three podium finishes in second year with the team.
McLaren came calling in 2013 following Lewis Hamilton's departure to Mercedes and Perez decided to join them even though he knew then Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicalli was lining him up for 2014.
"At that point (2013) Stefano told me stay at Sauber for one more year and then to go to Ferrari, but then the opportunity with McLaren came," Perez said.
Perez lasted only one season at McLaren and he admits his time there damaged his career, but he doesn't regret joining the Woking-based squad.
"At that time McLaren was really winning and had been for a couple of years, it was really the team to be at…" he said.
"It turned out it was not the right team. In hindsight it damaged quite a bit my reputation because when a big team gets rid of you after a year it really damages your reputation in the sport.
"I believe with my results in the past year, and this year if I can have strong results, then why can't the opportunity come to go back to a top team?"