Sergio Perez has announced that he will leave Racing Point at the end of the 2020 Formula 1 season, bringing an end to his long partnership with the team.
The Mexican joined the Silverstone-based squad when it ran under the Force India name in 2014 and was a leading factor behind its survival in 2018, when it was taken over by a consortium headed by Lawrence Stroll.
Perez’s exit paves the way for Sebastian Vettel to join the team, as the four-time World Champion has been heavily linked with the team for 2021 when it will be rebranded Aston Martin Racing, after team owner Stroll invested in the British car company.
Perez, 30, penned a three-year contract with the team last year and it is likely that he accepted terms to terminate his deal after 2020.
Perez has not indicated what his immediate plans are, but has affirmed that he wishes to remain in Formula 1 next season.
It is believed that Alfa Romeo is interested in his services while fellow Ferrari customer team Haas has also yet to determine its line-up.
“Everything in life always has a beginning and an end, and after seven years together, my time with the team will come to an end after this season,” said Perez in a statement released on Wednesday.
“It hurts a bit as I bet on the team during very rough times; we managed to overcome obstacles and I am very proud of saving the jobs of several of my team-mates.
“I’ll keep the memories of the great moments lived together, the friendships and the satisfaction of always giving my all.
“I will always be grateful for the opportunity given to me by Vijay Mallya, who believed in me in 2014 and allowed me to continue my F1 career with Force India.
“To the current administration, led by Lawrence Stroll, I wish nothing but the best in the future, specially with the upcoming Aston Martin project.
“I don’t have a plan B. My intention is to continue racing here, but that would depend on finding a project that motivates me to continue giving my 100 percent in each lap.
“I want to thank each one of you who have been with me throughout these 10 years. To my family, who has always been there to support me despite anything.
“To all the sponsors who believed in my project, to my staff, and mainly God, who blessed me with the opportunity to live this incredible adventure called F1.
“I hope I can give you some good news real soon, but for now, let’s enjoy together the next races. I carry you in my heart!”
Perez has scored eight podiums so far in the sport, with five of them associated with his current team. His last top-three finish came at the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Should it be Stroll giving up his seat? I know he;s the boss’s son, but Lawrence does not own 100% of the shares and he has a duty to keep the best drivers at his team for the other shareholders