Sergio Perez has spoken of his relief at formally confirming his plans to stay with Force India for the 2017 Formula 1 season after protracted negotiations left him concerned the deal would fall through.
A two-time podium winner in 2016, though Force India boss Vijay Mallya has long suggested Perez was signed for next year, full confirmation was dependent on a new extension being agreed between the team and his Mexican sponsors.
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However, while Perez had hoped to have his one-year deal in place by August, he admits the length of the talks left him increasingly concerned that he would be forced to look elsewhere at this relatively late stage.
“It's something less to worry [about] for the [rest of] the races of the year,” he said. “It's always good to know what you are doing in your future, and it's good, now I can get on totally with the job. There are five races left, they are really important for the team and hopefully we can keep on doing the job we are doing the whole season.”
“The uncertainty of what's going to happen [was a distraction]. Because I came to a point where I was seriously considering it's not going to happen, it took very long, as my deals are a bit more complex than others. But especially because it was so long, it was probably the last three months not knowing where my future will be.
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“It's not the best but at the end of the day I think I coped with it well. I am used to dealing with that, the rumours, uncertainty of the future and I think that helped me, what I lived in my past, to try to stay focused on my job.”
Indeed, though Renault is rumoured to have approached about switching for 2017, Perez maintains his primary aim was always to stay with Force India out of both loyalty and stability.
“We were not looking anywhere else. We had other options, other teams were interested on having me but always the Plan A was to stay here.
“I wanted the stability. Loyalty as well played an important role on this, because this team has been extremely good for me and my career. Going into a new generation of rules, all I wanted was to have some stability and not move around too much and obviously it was a one year option, so I want to see where we are next year and what's available for the future.”
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