Whitmarsh hopes Perez stays close to Button this year.
Jan.8 (GMM) Sauber's team manager has farewelled recently departed Sergio Perez with a round of praise.
"In terms of tyre management," he said, "he is a natural talent.
"We've seen it a few times. If everything falls into place, he literally flies."
Zehnder admitted, however, that the answer is "in the stars" as to whether Perez can turn those skills into true championship-winning potential.
Indeed, Auto Motor und Sport said some at Sauber - the Swiss team that has hosted Perez since his F1 debut in 2011 - think Perez is immature, impatient, hot-headed and inconsistent.
As well as his 3 podiums, Perez failed to score a single point in 13 of last year's races, including his six-race drought after news broke he was heading to McLaren in 2013.
Martin Whitmarsh, his new boss, hopes Perez stays close to Jenson Button this year.
"Jenson is the easiest teammate to collaborate with," said the McLaren chief. "He is honest and open and willing to help.
"I hope Sergio is smart enough to recognise that he still has a lot to learn."