Sergio Perez is certain his former Sauber teammate Kamui Kobayashi can earn a Formula 1 return next season.
While Perez was able to secure a McLaren seat for 2013, Kobayashi was left driveless when he was dropped by Sauber. The Swiss team signed Force India's Nico Hulkenberg and promoted reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez to replace Perez and Kobayashi.
The 2012 Sauber duo's contrasting fortunes came despite Perez ultimately only outscoring Kobayashi by six points, and the pair being equally matched in a head-to-head qualifying comparison. Perez admitted he felt sympathy for Kobayashi, but is confident the Japanese driver's F1 career is not over.
"He is a great driver, a great guy and somebody that can do a very good job for a team," said Perez as he met reporters, on his first day at work at the McLaren offices on Wednesday. "So I think in a way I feel a bit sorry but I think he will be back for next year. I am sure with his speed he can find a good seat and hopefully we can have him back next year."
Kobayashi attempted to raise a budget to find a 2013 drive, but was forced to admit defeat shortly before the end of the year. Perez added that he thinks compatriot Gutierrez can follow his example and impress the F1 fraternity with Sauber.
"I think he has a great opportunity," Perez said. "Sauber is a great team to show your potential and I think he will be doing quite well."