November 7, 2014 / 9:14 PM / in 3 years

Force India have exercised option on Perez: Mallya

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Force India have exercised an option on Mexican driver Sergio Perez for next year and are negotiating a contract extension for 2016, the Formula One team’s co-owner Vijay Mallya said on Friday.

Force India team principal Vijay Mallya waves in the paddock during the third practice session of the Indian F1 Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida, on the outskirts of New Delhi, October 27, 2012. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

“I have a two-year contract with Sergio Perez,” the principal told reporters at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

”There is nothing to hide. The possibility came of extending Checo’s contract into 2016 as well. That is what is under negotiation.

“We are talking about one additional year. We had an option that was signed as part of his original contract, we have exercised the option.”

Perez, who joined from McLaren before the start of the season, has said for several races that he expects to stay at Force India but a contract had yet to be signed.

While that may have misled some, Mallya said the Mexican was not wrong in talking about a new contract because it would effectively be a different deal if 2016 was added in.

Perez told reporters on Thursday that he hoped to finalize everything very soon but “nothing is confirmed yet”.

“I am really surprised it has taken this long but it’s just a process,” he added. “The negotiations have gone slowly. I really hope we can sort things out by the next race.”

Asked what the hold up was, Perez said he remained fully committed to the team but there were some changes he wanted made.

“I know (the team‘s) prospects and think we can do a strong year and improve what we have done this year into the second year,” he said.

“I obviously want to establish myself a little bit in the team in the second year. That is my target. I cannot give you too many details. All I am asking for is a couple of changes and I hope I can get them.”

Mexico is returning to the Formula One calendar next year for the first time since 1992 with Perez looking likely to be the country’s only driver after Sauber decided not to renew Esteban Gutierrez’s deal.

Mercedes-powered Force India are sixth in the championship and challenging McLaren for fifth.

Editing by Tony Jimenez

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