Sergio Pérez is reportedly close to re-signing with the Force India F1 Team for 2018 and the team’s chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer is hopeful a deal will be struck ahead of this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.
“We haven’t quite signed Sergio yet but we’re not far off,” Szafnauer said.
“The high likelihood is that we’re going to stick with our two drivers [Pérez and teammate Esteban Ocon] but I can’t say that 100% because not both of them are signed.”
Pérez joined the Silverstone based outfit in 2014 after two seasons with Sauber and one with McLaren.
A consistent points scorer, the likeable Mexican has previously been linked with a seat at Renault or Ferrari, although very much considered an outside chance for the latter. Hopes faded on a move to Ferrari after this week’s announcement of Kimi Räikkönen’s contract extension with the Scuderia.
While it looks likely Pérez will stay on at Force India, Szafnauer revealed the team does have a contingency plan in place which includes Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein, who is supported by the team’s engine supplier Mercedes.
“There’s always got to be a plan B. So, if for some reason we don’t sign Checo — but I believe we will — then you’ve got to look around, including Wehrlein. He’s not so bad!” Szafnauer added.
He also believes the continuity of keeping the current driver lineup in 2018 will help the team to close the gap to Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull Racing.
“I think the drivers will get better because they’ll learn more, I think the engine will get better because Mercedes upgrade every year. There’s some things we can do in the short term which we will do and I hope that relative to the top three we’ll be closer next year.”
Force India heads into the second half of the season in fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship standings. Having scored points in every race this year except Monaco, they are on course to equal their best-ever finish in F1 if the team’s consistent performance continues.
Image via Sahara Force India F1 Team