Sepang, Malaysia: Sauber driver Sergio Perez is setting aside speculation linking him with a move to Ferrari, saying he is focussed on performing for his current Formula One team.
Perez is one of several drivers who have been tipped as a replacement for Felipe Massa, who is under growing pressure to justify his place at Ferrari after struggling in last weekend's season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Perez is part of Ferrari's Young Driver Program and has tested for the team.
Asked Thursday about speculation of a move to Ferrari, the Mexican driver said "they are only rumors."
"Its only the first race of the season, so its very early to say this or speculate," Perez said. "I am very focussed with my team, with Sauber, and we have a great car."
Massa, who came within one turn of winning the drivers' championship in 2008, missed much of 2009 after a freak accident and had been well off the pace in the two years since.
While teammate Fernando Alonso finished fifth in last weekend's Australian Grand Prix, Massa spent much of the race fighting off backmarkers and retired after tangling with Williams' Bruno Senna.
Ferrari has shipped an entirely new chassis to Malaysia for Massa in the hope that may improve his performance.
Italian media has speculated that the Brazilian will become the first Ferrari driver in 27 years to be cut during the season, with Perez heading a list of replacement candidates. Others reportedly in contention include Adrian Sutil, Jarno Trulli and former Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello.
However, Michael Schumacher, who was a former teammate with Massa, urged Ferrari to exercise patience and not make judgements based just on the Melbourne performance.
"If you look at all the winter testing, the two (Ferrari) drivers were very close together," Schumacher said Thursday. "To see the big difference we saw in Melbourne, I can only assume there must have been something not right for him.
"I trust he will (improve) and the team will do the utmost to give him the support he needs."