SERGIO PEREZ: He's been hooked by Force India for another two years after the team invoked a clause in his contract. Image: AFP
SAO PAULO, Brazil - Force India has exercised an option on Mexican driver Sergio Perez for 2015 and is negotiating a contract extension for 2016, the Formula 1 team's co-owner Vijay Mallya has said.
"I have a two-year contract with Sergio Perez," Mallya said ahead of the 2014 Brazilian F1 GP. "There is nothing to hide. The possibility came of extending Checo's contract into 2016 as well. That is what is under negotiation.
"We are talking about one additional year. We had an option that was signed as part of his original contract. We have exercised the option."
'IT'S JUST A PROCESS'
Perez joined from McLaren before the start of 2014 season. He has said for several races that he expects to stay at Force India but a contract had yet to be signed. While that may have misled some, Mallya said the Mexican was not wrong in talking about a new contract because it would effectively be a different deal if 2016 were added in.
Perez had told reporters as recently as Thursday (Nov 6) that he hoped to finalise everything very soon but "nothing is confirmed yet". On Friday he said: “I’m really surprised it has taken this long, but it's just a process. The negotiations have gone slowly. I really hope we can sort things out by the next race."
MEXICO BACK ON CALENDAR
What was causing the delay? Perez said he remained fully committed to the team but there were changes he wanted made. "I know (the team's) prospects and think we can do a strong year and improve into the second year.”
Mexico will be back on the F1 calendar in 2015 for the first time since 1992 with Perez looking likely to be the country's only driver after Sauber decided not to renew Esteban Gutierrez's deal.
Mercedes-powered Force India is sixth in the championship but challenging McLaren for fifth.
Stay with Wheels24 for the 2014 Brazilian F1 GP weekend.