Another piece of the Formula 1 2021 driver market fell into place recently when it was announced that Sebastian Vettel would be replacing Sergio Perez at Racing Point, soon to be rebranded the Aston Martin F1 Team.
This is a big disappointment for Perez who seemed to have been hoping that with the new investment in the Silverstone based team he would soon find himself fighting more regularly for podium finishes and even wins. This ambition is now in jeopardy with the Mexican needing to decide whether to stay in Formula 1, where there are few options available, take a sabbatical/retire or go and race in a different series.
In the wake of having been dumped from the Silverstone based team, the Mexican has mentioned recently that he would like to stay in the sport for 2021, but only with the right package. There don’t appear to be that many great packages open to Perez as he is currently in a team that is competitive this season, and will likely be next season due to the carryover of the cars. Looking at his most obvious choices of Alfa Romeo and Haas, it would seem that the Mexican will have to accept taking a step back in 2021 in the hope of there being a major step forward by his new for 2021 team in 2022. He has previously competed in the sport with Alfa Romeo when it was known as Sauber while he is also believed to have held serious talks with Haas in the past.
It would appear that Perez is taking the 2022 regulations into account as he goes about deciding his next career move, like Vettel. The Mexican has stated that if he is to stay in Formula 1 as well as having the right package, his next move needs to be a long-term project that in part targets the rules reset in 2022.
As mentioned both Alfa Romeo and Haas aren’t very attractive propositions considering their 2020 form (and in the case of Haas its 2019 form as well). But this is where factoring the 2022 rules come in as it gives the likes of Haas and Alfa Romeo the ability to get back into the heart of the midfield as a minimum thanks to the budget cap, the new technical regulations and the ‘balance of performance’ rules. Perez ultimately needs to figure out which of the two teams is best placed, and most likely, to take advantage of these new rules.
Continuing with Haas or Alfa Romeo could be interesting, especially if the Mexican felt that he could easily get Haas back into their 2018 form when the American team finished the season in fifth with close to a hundred points. It is also worth remembering that in the two season’s prior to 2020 Alfa Romeo/Sauber scored around 50 points and were classified in last season’s Brazilian Grand Prix fourth and fifth.Embed from Getty Images
There are perhaps some ‘wildcard’ options for the Mexican as well in Formula 1. It is not completely outside the realms of possibility he could secure a Red Bull drive alongside Max Verstappen next season, if the Austrian team decide to hire someone from outside its current roster of drivers. I also feel there is a possibility he could go to Williams should the new owners wish to have someone with more experience form its 2021 lineup, despite Russell and Latifi both having 2021 contracts with the team.
The likelihood of Perez being at Red Bull for 2021 or at Williams for that matter does appear very slim, and only Red Bull would realistically be able to provide the Mexican with a car for him to challenge at the sharper end of the field. Yet Williams could definitely fit into the category of being a long-term project thanks to it being under new ownership.
Other options available to Perez include doing what Vettel was considering, either have a year out or retire, or for the Mexican to race in another series. This last option is interesting as there are some who believe the Mexican wouldn’t have trouble securing a top seat, thanks to his backing, in IndyCar. It is also felt that the current type of racing would play to Perez’s advantage who is considered to be excellent at managing the life of the tyres.Embed from Getty Images
It would also be great to see what he would be able to achieve in IndyCar competing against regulars like Scott Dixon, Will Power and Josef Newgarden, as well as some newer drivers in the series, whether they be the likes of Colton Herta and Oliver Askew or Marcus Ericsson and Felix Rosenqvist. It is believed that Chip Ganassi has expressed interest in the past of running Perez in IndyCar while Zak Brown recently stated that the IndyCar side of McLaren would be interested in holding talks with the Mexican about a drive.
Perez continues the trend initially started by Esteban Ocon in 2018 and continued by Nico Hulkenberg in 2019 of drivers who should probably be in Formula 1 on merit of their skill, but ultimately miss out and end up scrambling to secure a drive. There could be good long term projects at Alfa Romeo, Haas or even Williams for the Mexican to commit to. Should he not be convinced there appear to be doors open to him to go and compete in IndyCar, which would be exciting.