Sergio Perez has been left out in the cold by Racing Point and his Formula 1 future beyond the end of this season is now far from certain.

Despite signing fresh terms last year to remain with the Silverstone outfit until 2022, Perez’s contract was cut short by two years on Wednesday when he received an unexpected call from team owner Lawrence Stroll informing him that he had lost his seat to Sebastian Vettel for 2021.

The Mexican was left understandably “hurt” in his announcement and revealed he had heard nothing from Racing Point to suggest he would not be driving for the team next year until Wednesday.

It appears ruthless at best for Racing Point to so readily discard a driver who has been loyal to the cause both on and off the track, and provided the team with some fantastic performances that has seen Perez earn the reputation for being one of the strongest, and most consistent, drivers in the midfield.

But as Perez himself conceded, he knows how the game of F1 works having been in the sport for so many years. He has accepted the decision and is now focusing his full attention on finding a landing spot.

Given the timing of the decision, there are few remaining options left for him on the F1 grid, and certainly no front-running drives available. It took Perez by surprise and gave him no chance to come up with a Plan B, but he remains determined to stay.

“My priority will be to carry on and do at least a two-year contract to try to be here for 2022,” Perez said on Thursday when he addressed the media ahead of this weekend’s Tuscan Grand Prix at Mugello.

“Get ‘21 as experience with the team and then making sure ’22 is a strong season.

“I think once you go out, you might never come back so I would rather retire first than take a sabbatical.”

So, where does Perez’s future now lie? He will certainly have plenty of interested admirers queuing up…

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Return to Hinwil with Alfa Romeo

Perhaps the most attractive option for Perez will be to join Alfa Romeo and return to the Hinwil squad which handed him his F1 debut back in 2011 under its former Sauber guise.

Perez revealed that teams from both within and outside the F1 paddock had enquired about his services even as soon as the rumours linking Vettel to Aston Martin began months ago.

When he was convinced that he would retain his Racing Point seat for the team’s new era Perez had not pursued talks with any other teams, but it is understood that Alfa Romeo was one of the interested parties.

The out-of-contract Kimi Raikkonen is yet to decide whether he wants to extend his F1 tenure beyond the end of the current campaign, which could open up a free seat to fill, while Antonio Giovinazzi is yet to start talks over his own future.

Ferrari has an influential say over one of the seats at the Swiss squad and is likely to want to promote at least one of its current juniors that are currently making up the top-three positions in the Formula 2 championship.

Assuming a seat does become available for Perez, would he want to make the step back to an Alfa team which is currently struggling to score points in F1’s ultra-competitive midfield? 

Gamble on Haas

Perez has interested Haas for a number of years and while the American squad has ultimately decided to stick with, rather than twist, its driver line-up, now could be the perfect time to shake things up.

Team principal Guenther Steiner has already admitted Haas is open to completely refreshing its line-up for 2021 and has spoken about wanting stability for when the new regulations come in 2022, something which Perez is also seeking. Perez would be an ideal team leader for Haas moving into F1’s new era.

Naturally a move to Haas would come with an element of risk, given the US outfit is on the smaller scale in terms of its operation, but Perez is not unfamiliar with the role of being at an underdog team punching above its weight. It is something the Mexican has capitalised on time and time again at Racing Point.

Haas currently finds itself in a similar level of competitiveness to Alfa Romeo, but Perez might want to roll the dice on the team in the hope that it can take advantage of the looming regulation overhaul and regain some of its former performance from its early years in F1.

Look to other series outside of F1

Given the only other seats available for 2021 currently come at Mercedes, which is expected to retain Lewis Hamilton, and Red Bull and AlphaTauri, who are unlikely to look outside of their programme, Perez could be forced to move away from F1 altogether.

Perez ruled out taking a sabbatical year from racing and confirmed he would pursue an alternative series if he is not successful in his main quest to find an F1 drive.

The 30-year-old insisted he would take his time over making a final decision, but did not dismiss the prospect of a switch to either IndyCar or Formula E.

“I think everything is an option right now,” he explained.

“My main target is to remain in F1, I feel that I am still very young and I’m hungry and I want to carry on in Formula 1.

“But it has to be the right package, a package that really gives me the maximum motivation to give my 100 percent every single lap.

“I think it’s also going to be a long-term project, targeting 2022, there I expect the rule changing to play a major effect.

“So that’s the main reason that I want to continue for 2022 because I feel there can be plenty of opportunities.

“I certainly think 2021 can be a difficult year in that regard but you never know. There certainly are options out there and I don’t expect to make a decision any time soon.

“I will take the time that I require and if I don’t find anything in F1 then I will think about the other series, other things. We’ll see.”

 

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