Perez staying with Force India for 2016

Wed Sep 23, 2015 7:02pm EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

SUZUKA, Japan (Reuters) - Mexican Sergio Perez will race for the Force India Formula One team again next season in an unchanged lineup with Germany's Nico Hulkenberg.

"I am very happy to confirm that I will be staying with Sahara Force India. It means I can simply focus on the important stuff -- driving the car and scoring points for the team," the 25-year-old said in a team statement on Thursday.

"Since coming here I've really grown as a driver and I feel I'm performing at my best," added Perez, who joined from McLaren at the end of 2013 and is currently the only Mexican on the starting grid.

Hulkenberg's extension had already been announced at the Mercedes-powered team, who are fifth in the championship. Perez has scored points in his last three races and is ninth overall.

While Perez had been expected to stay, after a multi-year contract was announced last year, there had been lingering speculation he could switch to Lotus if that struggling team is taken over by Renault.

However the Mexican, whose sponsors make a significant contribution to Force India's finances, had made continuity a priority.

Mexico is back on the F1 calendar this year for the first time since 1992 and the country could have two race drivers in 2016 with Ferrari reserve Esteban Gutierrez seen as a frontrunner for a seat at the new U.S.-based Haas team.

With Perez confirmed, the main focus of the driver market is now on McLaren, Lotus and Haas.   Continued...

Formula One - F1 - Singapore Grand Prix 2015 - Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore - 17/9/15
Force India's Sergio Perez ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix
Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Hoch Zwei