Sergio Perez will leave Racing Point at the end of 2020, opening the door for Sebastian Vettel.
Perez leaving Racing Point – He has just announced this via his Twitter channel. This puts an end to a long series of rumours about the future of the Mexican driver with the team. An unexpected turn of events after Otmar Szafnauer denied Vettel’s arrival this afternoon.
“After seven years my time with the team has come to an end. I will always be grateful to Vijay Mallya for the opportunity he gave me in 2014 at the then Force India,” said Pérez in his statement. However, the Mexican does not yet have a new employer. “I hope to continue racing, but that depends on whether I can find a project that will motivate me to be able to compete 100% every round.”
The fact that Pérez is leaving the team just now hurts him. “I joined the team in difficult times. We have overcome many obstacles and I am very proud of that. I hope I can come soon with good news, but for now let’s enjoy the coming races”.
Perez’s departure theoretically paves the way for Vettel to slot in alongside Stroll from 2021 onwards.
Vettel has kept his options open since learning Ferrari did not want to keep him beyond this season and signed Carlos Sainz Jr to partner Charles Leclerc instead.
The Racing Point/Aston Martin project quickly emerged as his best option as Mercedes distanced itself from a move for the four-time world champion and Red Bull closed the door to a Vettel return.
However, with Perez and Lance Stroll under contract for 2021, Racing Point refused to entertain speculation that Vettel could join – though it never emphatically ended that speculation either.
Vettel’s most recent comments about his future have reiterated that he is open to all options, including a sabbatical or retirement.
But he has regularly underlined his desire to continue with the right project.
Racing Point is in a fight to establish itself as the leading midfield team in F1 so that its Aston era may quickly develop into a programme that can fight for victories when new technical rules come into force in 2022.
The team was immensely successful on a small budget in its Force India days and with the investment from Stroll’s consortium boosting its funding and a budget cap set to slash rivals’ spending in 2021, expectations at the Silverstone-based team are high.
Meanwhile, it is thought Perez would have little trouble finding suitors in F1’s midfield given his financial backing and reputation as a consistent performer – but on current form a move to Ferrari customers Alfa Romeo or Haas, who don’t have their 2021 line-ups announced, would represent a downgrade from Racing Point.
The Silverstone-based outfit confirmed Perez’s departure in a statement released soon after the Mexican’s social media announcement.
“Checo has been part of the Silverstone family for seven years and in that time has become one of the most complete drivers on the grid,” said Racing Point team boss Otmar Szafnauer.
“Blisteringly quick on Saturday and Sunday, he’s established his reputation as a tenacious racer and together we have enjoyed some fantastic moments.
“If there was ever a sniff of a podium, Checo was ready to pounce, and those five podiums represent some of the finest days in the history of this team.
“Outside of the car, Checo is a true character and a good friend, and it’s been a pleasure working with him for such a long time.
“Although we will say goodbye at the end of the year, there are still nine races to go and plenty of opportunities for Checo to make some more special memories with this team.”
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F1 2020 NEXT RACE
|Russia ||27 Sep|
|10h00 - 11h30||Free practice 1|
|14h00 - 15h30||Free practice 2|
|11h00 - 12h00||Free practice 3|
|14h00 - 15h00||Qualification|
|14h10 - 16h10||Race|