Following months of conjecture over which team Sergio Perez would be driving for in 2017, the Mexican finally confirmed he would be remaining with Sahara Force India, after Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix.
The Silverstone based team’s owner, Vijay Mallya, originally confirmed prior to the British Grand Prix race weekend back in July, that both his current drivers would be remaining with the squad in 2017, however Perez declined to comment on the truth behind that statement, advising at the time that he was still keeping his options open.
It recently transpired that the reason for the delay in Perez confirming his official plans for next year, was down to an escape clause in his contract that gives his many sponsors, which include Mexican telecommunications companies Telmex and Telcel, the final say on his future given the amount of money they offer up to further their countryman’s F1 career.
But having been linked with a number of other F1 teams in recent months, with the likes of Scuderia Ferrari, the Renault Sport F1 Team and Williams Martini Racing all being named as possible options, Perez has finally sealed a deal to remain at Force India alongside current team-mate Nico Hulkenberg, and the Mexican is extremely pleased to finally have everything in place.
“I’m pleased to confirm that I will be racing with Sahara Force India in 2017 as the team and my supporters have concluded their agreements.
“I’m very happy with this team and I have a good feeling for the future. I’ve seen the progress we’ve made over last couple of years and I’m sure we have the potential to achieve even more going forward.
“The team knows me well and it’s important to have stability, especially with some big rule changes planned for next year. I’m excited for the rest of this season and for the challenge that awaits all of us in 2017.
“I thank all the team for believing in me and I will do my best repay their faith with points, podiums and hopefully wins.
“I also want to thank our Mexican partners, especially Telmex and Telcel, who have been supporting me since I was a young boy. They continue to play an important role in my journey through the sport.”
The Mexican also confirmed his news to fans on his Twitter page.
Perez has enjoyed a relatively strong season so far, pushing above his weight at times in the VJM09, claiming podiums at both Monaco and Baku, the only rostrum finishes achieved so far by Force India in 2016.
In Monaco, the Mexican expertly kept the mounting challenge from the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel at bay for almost the entire race, earning him a place on the bottom step of the podium for his efforts. Whilst at the European Grand Prix in Baku, the former McLaren driver put in a brilliant display to qualify in second place, before he was handed a five place grid penalty for an engine change that saw him relegated to seventh.
Perez was able to hold his own near the front for the majority of the Baku race, eventually coming home in third to claim two podiums in three races. It was the sort of performance that had people wondering whether the Mexican’s career would finally begin to move forward from here.
The 26-year-old is a highly sought after driver, and had he not put pen to paper at Force India, the Mexican would not have been short of offers.
Renault were keen to entice Perez across to Enstone’s shore’s, but the Mexican was not happy to commit to a three-year deal, something the French team insisted on, because as a former Ferrari academy driver, the Mexican still has aspirations to drive for the Maranello based squad, with his sights fixed firmly on 2018 as being his chance to make that dream a reality.