Above: Sergio Perez celebrates his third-place finish at the Azerbaijan GP in April.
Sergio Perez says his “heart is broken” but that he had to take action against Force India in order to save the team from closing down.
Force India has been struggling financially in recent years, but the situation has worsened with team owner Vijay Mallya fighting extradition to India to face fraud charges. The team was placed in administration on Friday after Perez triggered legal action, supported by Mercedes, in order to try and make a change of ownership more likely, and the Mexican says it is a decision he took to protect the team.
“In the end, I end up in a very difficult situation,” Perez said. “The last month or so has been extremely tough for me, with the situation that our team was [in]. In the end, I ended up in the middle. We got to a point where action had to be taken, to protect the 400 people who work in the team.
“I should not really like to be involved in this, because at the end of the day, I’m just a driver, and I’m just here to drive. I tried to focus but then it got too much. I was asked by a couple of members of the team to go ahead and save the team and protect the 400 people who were working there.
“For me, it was hard because emotionally and mentally, it’s really tough, I haven’t been able to focus on my driving, on being a racing driver. There were so many things out of that. But the picture is much bigger than it looks at the moment. We might go into a painful period but the outcome will be really good for all the team.”
While the fact that he is owed millions in salary allowed him to trigger proceedings, Perez says the reason for his action was not in order to receive that money.
“Monies due are from last year. The thing is, there was a winding up petition from another customer, which would have closed down the team completely. Therefore I was asked to save the team, to pull the trigger and put the team into administration. It was nothing to do with my outstanding amounts. The only reason I have done it was to save the team and for the better future for the team.”
And Perez says he is enjoying the support of Force India during the current situation, although fears not everyone has been made aware of the reasons for his involvement.
“Definitely, I’m sure everyone appreciates what I have done and if they don’t appreciate it right now because a couple of members of the team don’t know the full picture, if they don’t appreciate it now, they will appreciate it in a week or so, because they will find out what the reason is behind it.
“I’ve seen some quotes in the media from you, saying I’ve done it for the sake of getting my money. That had nothing to do with it. It’s mainly to protect the team, which is quite easy in the media, to create those stories. I have been put in this position. It’s not something I’m enjoying and liking it but in the end, I have to make the decision to protect the 400 people who are working here.
“Personally, I love Vijay, my heart is broken because I know this is not ideal in the short term for him. But the big picture is really different. I have gone through a very difficult moment emotionally more than mentally. For me, it’s been hard the position I’ve been put in. So yeah, I have to say, I’m not going through a good time at the moment.”
Late Saturday night, Perez released a letter on social media to clarify his position.