Racing Point boss Otmar Szafnauer says Sergio Perez was “kept aware” of its talks with Sebastian Vettel about driving for the team during the 2021 Formula 1 season.

Perez will be replaced by four-time world champion Vettel when the team rebrands to Aston Martin next season, a decision which was made final on Wednesday.

The Mexican announced his exit from Racing Point on Wednesday evening after receiving a call from team owner Lawrence Stroll, before Vettel’s impending arrival was confirmed on Thursday ahead of this weekend’s Tuscan Grand Prix.

Responding to Perez’s claim that he had been told nothing before Wednesday, Szafnauer told Sky Sports F1: “He did have an inkling and he did know, we kept his manager Julien [Jakobi] informed of the process all the way through.

“But like I said, it wasn’t a clear decision and that’s credit to him because he did such a great job for us. He was kept aware of what was going on.

“What he didn’t know, because the decision wasn’t made, what the definitive action was going to be. That’s what he learned on Wednesday.”

SEE ALSO: What next for Sergio Perez after Racing Point exit?

Szafnauer revealed that Racing Point had been in talks with Vettel about a possible driver for “quite some time” following his confirmed departure from Ferrari which was announced in May.

“We’ve been talking to him for quite some time, the decision was made two days ago, really, the final decision,” he explained.

“It wasn’t easy, Sergio served us well, he’s a great racer, he’s a quick driver, he’s a safe pair of hands on a Sunday, especially as he doesn’t make many mistakes and bring the points in.

“It wasn’t that easy and that’s a compliment to Sergio, for us to deliberate for so long, whether to take a four-time world champion with all the experience Sebastian brings or stay with Sergio.

“Ultimately, with Aston Martin coming in, it’s the right decision to get the experience that Sebastian brings with him, the experience of a top team, that’s where Aston Martin aspires to be. I think we did the right thing.

“I think he’ll bring with him a world champion’s work ethic,” Szafnauer added. “That’s what we all want to learn from and everyone is going to have to raise their game.

“He’ll be a great mentor for Lance too, who’s quite young and fast. Isn’t it great for someone who has just come into the sport to learn from a four-time world champion?”

 

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