At the British Grand Prix, Force India’s team boss Vijay Mallya announced that Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg were tied down to Force India for 2017, but Perez has made it very clear that he isn’t bound to Force India for 2017 at all.
Perez joined Force India in 2014 after a season with McLaren in 2013 that saw him get the chop in a scapegoating exercise. Since, Perez has highlighted his ability, regularly getting the maximum out of the VJM09 and sometimes going beyond expectation and collecting a podium.
— Sahara Force India (@ForceIndiaF1) July 28, 2016
Fans with a keen eye will have noticed Checo’s abilities at Sauber in 2012 where he picked up three podiums for Sauber and outperformed his exciting Japanese team-mate on the offence, Kamui Kobayashi. The Mexican’s record shows a clear theme, one that shows a driver who can outperform the car beneath him without burning out.
We can only wonder what he could do in a top team, because the year he was at McLaren was the start of the end for the Woking-based squad. They expected a direct replacement for the outgoing Lewis Hamilton, and judged Perez as such, but failed to deliver themselves with the MP4-28.
Perez has now served a lengthy spell at Force India and has been their star driver this season, and in some cases, the most exciting driver on the grid. Perez has publicly opened the door for other teams to swoop him up; he’s denounced the concrete statements of Vijay Mallya in the process too.
“It’s up to me and the group of sponsors what to do. It is not only down to me. I’m a very lucky driver, to have so much support. If we’re moving around teams, we’ll take the decision together with the group of sponsors that I have.
A decision [over the 2017 season] has not been taken. I hope I can come back after the break knowing what the future holds.
You never know. My deals are not so simple. I have a lot of sponsors that have to do deals, so it takes longer than if I was a driver going into a team or doing just a contract deal.”
– Sergio Perez
So, where is he heading? There are more drivers linked with a top team than there are top seats. Kimi Raikkonen has signed a contract extension at Ferrari, but managerial changes and the reported destabilization in Maranello might change that. There is also Felipe Massa’s seat at Williams, but this could prove to be another side-step for Perez and he’s probably sick of those.