Sergio Perez has announced his departure from Racing Point at the end of this season, paving the way for Sebastian Vettel to join the team.
Racing Point will become Aston Martin Racing in 2021 and has been heavily linked with a move for Vettel after the four-time world champion was told he would not be staying at Ferrari. Perez had a contract in place already for the coming years with Racing Point, but has now announced he will be leaving the team at the end of this year, admitting he is disappointed by the development and has no back-up option in place.
“Everything in life always has a beginning and an end, and after seven years together, my time with the team will come to an end after this season,” Perez announced. “It hurts a bit as I bet on the team during very rough times; we managed to overcome obstacles and I am very proud of saving the jobs of several of my teammates.
“I’ll keep the memories of the great moments lived together, the friendships and the satisfaction of always giving my all. I will always be grateful for the opportunity given to me by Vijay Mallya, who believed in me in 2014 and allowed me to continue my F1 career with Force India.
“To the current administration, led by Lawrence Stroll, I wish nothing but the best in future, specially with the upcoming Aston Martin project.
“I don’t have a plan B. My intention is to continue racing here, but that would depend on finding a project that motivates me to continue giving my 100 percent in each lap.
“I want to thank each one of you who have been with me throughout these 10 years. To my family, who has always been there to support me despite everything. To all the sponsors who believed in my project, to my staff, and mainly God, who blessed me with the opportunity to live this incredible adventure called F1.
“I hope I can give you some good news real soon, but for now, let’s enjoy together the next races.”
Vettel has yet to announce what he will do in 2021, but the departure of Perez points to a deal already being agreed that will see the German move to Aston Martin next year.
RACER understands Alfa Romeo has shown an interest in re-signing Perez — who made his F1 debut for Sauber — but is also keeping tabs on Nico Hulkenberg’s availability if Kimi Raikkonen does not remain for a further year. The team has also been linked with one of the Ferrari junior drivers — Callum Ilott, Mick Schumacher and Robert Shwartzman — who are the top three in the current Formula 2 standings.