Sergio Perez raised eyebrows in the Formula 1 paddock after announcing a new three-year deal at Racing Point, keeping him at the team until 2022, but the Mexican sees it as a new opportunity which won’t impact his prospect if a title-fighting team came knocking.

While the entire F1 grid remains undecided beyond the end of 2021, Perez’s new contract makes him the first driver confirmed on the grid for 2022 with the Mexican driver explaining the long-term agreement is part of Racing Point’s planned expansion after its takeover by the Lawrence Stroll-led consortium 12 months ago.

Perez says he’s a strong believer in Racing Point’s development plans and is eager to use the opportunity to gain his own stability thanks to his first multi-year F1 deal since 2014 – meaning he is set to stay at the Silverstone-based team for nine consecutive years by 2022.

But quizzed over potentially missing out on the chance of stepping up to a title-fighting team in the future, Perez hinted an option could remain open “if a big opportunity came up”.

“I know that there might be some movement around,” Perez said. “But I think I’ve been in this team so long, that if a big opportunity came up definitely the team will be happy to consider it. That is not a concern.

“It’s more to work together for the next three years and we have big targets to achieve.

“I see this team with big potential. I really believe in the plans that we have for the coming years. I think this year as expected has been a bit of a transition. I think one year ago it’s when the transition of new team owners came in place, I think definitely it’s a massive opportunity for me to grow together for the future and obviously there is a big change in rules coming up so hopefully this team can be in place for that.

“What the team is doing back home, how hard they’re pushing and the investment is a massive opportunity. I wanted a project that motivated me, and it’s what I have here. Only time will tell if it’s right or not but I’m optimistic for it.”

At 29, Perez also accepted he had to be realistic over the prospects of targeting a race seat at the likes of Mercedes or Ferrari, given both have junior driver programmes jammed with talented younger drivers, which also played a key role in his decision to sign his long-term deal at Racing Point.

“I am realistic. There’s no point right now for me to say that I’m going to have a chance with Mercedes or Ferrari for next year,” he said. “There were years [before] that I was close but it hasn’t been for the last years.

“I have an opportunity with a team I can grow with so why not? You see these days that it’s difficult for people to find a team where they feel comfortable, not just with the racing side, but the project the team has, that was important for me.

“I’m not saying the opportunity with a top team will not happen anymore as you never know what will happen in Formula 1, but I’m just pleased I have a long-term deal with a team that has a big future ahead.”

 

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