EXCLUSIVE: Checo Pérez joins Jenson Button for a new series of ‘Tooned’..

McLaren-tooned-animation-future

With all the attention this morning focused on the ‘Big’ announcement of Lewis to AMG Mercedes and Sergio Pérez to McLaren – we realised that far more significant news may have been overlooked.. What happens to the future of Tooned!?

For many people, Tooned is the highlight of their grand prix weekend, watching Lewis and Jenson scupper the plans of ‘Professor M’ (played by Alexander Armstrong), draws more of our household to the TV than the race itself.

In case you’ve not yet seen an episode, Tooned is a 12-part animation series that began in July this year, designed to expose the McLaren brand to a wider audience. Lewis’ character is mischievous, disobedient and youthful, while Jenson plays the ‘slightly’ more dependable rogue.

I reached out this morning to John Allert, Group Brand Director of McLaren Marketing, to find out what the company has decided now that Lewis will be driving for Mercedes-Benz from 2013.

We’re only half way through the series, so with six episodes still to record, I asked Allert if Lewis would continue playing his role until the end of this year’s scheduled episodes. I also asked if Sergio ‘Checo’ Pérez would be joining Jenson in a new series beginning in 2013.

“Correct. Lewis will continue and record the final 6 episodes as planned” said Allert. “We will definitely continue with the series in 2013, when Sergio’s character will be written into the script.”

Allert would not confirm whether Checo might play a cameo part in one of the final six episodes, nor would he confirm how Lewis’ character is set to be written out of the story.

Given the script writing skills of the creative team at Framestore, I wouldn’t put it past them to surprise us. Also, I can’t wait to discover how they choose to characterise Lewis in the trophy cabinet (alongside Nigel Mansell’s moustache).

Also in the news..

Just in case you’re reached this post without having already read the news about Lewis and Sergio, in summary:

Lewis Hamilton has signed a three-year agreement to race for Mercedes AMG Petronas from the 2013. He will join Nico Rosberg, who stays with the team, while 7-time world champion Michael Schumacher steps down from his role as a driver. Vodafone McLaren Mercedes announced at the same time (well, slightly earlier actually) that 22-year-old Sergio Perez will join the team, alongside Jenson Button, on a multi-year deal from the start of the 2013 season.

There are several ‘interesting’ quotes in both team’s press release.

Lewis Hamilton – “It is now time for me to take on a fresh challenge and I am very excited to begin a new chapter racing for the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team. Mercedes-Benz has such an incredible heritage in motorsport, along with a passion for winning which I share. Together, we can grow and rise to this new challenge. I believe that I can help steer the Silver Arrows to the top and achieve our joint ambitions of winning the world championships.”

Michael Schumacher – “I have had three nice years with the team which unfortunately did not go as well as we all would have wanted on the sporting side. I wish Lewis well and for the team to achieve the success we worked so hard for in the build-up. I would like to thank the team for their trust and all the guys for their unconditional commitment. I will now concentrate on the next races.”

Sergio Pérez – “I’d like to thank Carlos Slim Jr (the world’s richest man), who has helped me since I was 14 years old, without whom I wouldn’t be where I am today. Our journey together over the past eight years has been an incredible one, and I’ll do everything in my power to deliver with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes the results that he and I have been working so hard and so long to achieve together.”

There’s also another interesting paragraph which bears closer inspection; “While Sergio’s career with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes will begin in earnest in Melbourne next year, his future team remains absolutely committed to fighting for, and providing every opportunity to both Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton to contest, the 2012 drivers’ and constructors’ world championships.”

Interesting eh?