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F1 Belgian GP: Force India ‘will be very surprised’ to lose Perez

Force India expects to keep Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg for the 2017 Formula 1 season.
Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley says he would be 'surprised' if Sergio Perez doesn't firm up a new deal with the team for the 2017 Formula 1 season despite rumours linking him to Renault.

A two-time podium winner this season, Perez is one of the highest placed drivers in the overall standings without a firm deal for 2017, though Force India boss Vijay Mallya has suggested the Mexican is under contract for another season.

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Regardless, with Perez's lucrative portfolio of Mexican sponsors expected to have final say in negotiations, Renault is believed to have shown an interest that could well see it poach the 26 year-old next year.

With the man himself suggesting talks are ongoing with Force India, Fernley admitted talks are 'complicated' but says he would be surprised if he doesn't remain alongside Nico Hulkenberg next year.

“First of all both Checo and Nico are both under contract and that's the normal way you would work as obviously we need continuity in the drivers, we'd very much like to keep the two together.

“With Checo come highly sophisticated and complex commercial negotiations and those obviously have got to play their part as well. But that can only come after we've secured the two drivers in the first place. That's the process we're under now and I would be very surprised if we're not staying with the two drivers in 2017.”

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Despite a tough return campaign, Renault has been linked with a number of high-profile drivers for 2017, including Perez, newly-signed Manor driver Esteban Ocon and Williams' Valtteri Bottas, while Stoffel Vandoorne is also considered an option should McLaren fail to promote its protégé in 2017.

Even so, Frederic Vasseur was remaining tight-lipped about the French manufacturer's plans.

“We are not under pressure to take a decision. We will take a decision in the next few weeks or months.”

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