Renault Sport F1 Wants Sergio Perez
The Mexican driver may soon be one of the hottest commodities on the Formula 1 driver market.
Mexican Formula 1 driver Sergio "Checo" Perez of Force India has matured into one hell of a racing driver. His early career was an eyebrow raiser, as he established his skill at preserving his tires, and at the 2012 Malaysian Grand Prix, he nearly caught then-Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, narrowly missing out on a win. Following a rocky stint at McLaren in 2013, he transferred to Force India, with whom he has managed to achieve four more podium positions. In 2016, he confirmed he would spend 2017 with Force India, but the limited extension to his contract with the team means that his options for 2018 and beyond are open, and options are not something he is short of.
According to F1i, Perez and Renault have engaged in "serious discussions" for the driver's 2018 season. Allegedly, they even wanted to pick up Perez midseason, with their current driver Jolyon Palmer not meeting expectations. That said, Force India is likely unwilling to let their number one driver set sail for another team during the season, as they still are leaning heavily on his talents, with his teammate Esteban Ocon outracing him only once this season, in Monaco, where neither car scored points. The current favorite to get Renault's second seat in the event that Palmer is ditched is Sergey Sirotkin, the Renault's development driver.
Perez may not be willing to go to Renault just yet, even though the possibility of being at a works team is enticing to every driver. Before he went to McLaren for 2013, he was a part of the Ferrari Driver Academy, the team's talent sourcing program, akin to Red Bull's junior teams, with the goal of scouting top talents to bring into the team. As of late last year, Perez still had hopes of climbing the ladder to Ferrari, and with the expiration of Kimi Räikkönen's contract at the end of the year, it is likely that the Finnish driver will retire, opening up a vacuum into which multiple drivers may try to leap.
Other candidates for the Ferrari seat that many assume to be open following this season include Carlos Sainz, the talented Toro Rosso driver, Antonio Giovinazzi, Ferrari's current reserve driver, and maybe even Fernando Alonso, though bad blood between the two would likely prevent the Spaniard's return. Given Ferrari's deluge of choices for promising drivers, current Ferrari number one driver Sebastian Vettel may have to work harder than ever before in his career to impress in the face of skilled opposition. The odds of his next teammate being a Spanish speaker appear near definite.