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Mexican driver Sergio Perez signs new one-year deal with Force India

The 27-year-old Mexican driver will continue to partner Frenchman Esteban Ocon in 2018, the team said at the Singapore Grand Prix.
Reported by: AP New Delhi September 25, 2017 18:35 IST
AP

Sergio Perez will stay with Force India next year after the Formula One team announced a one-year contract extension on Sunday.

The 27-year-old Mexican driver will continue to partner Frenchman Esteban Ocon in 2018, the team said at the Singapore Grand Prix.

Perez has seven F1 podiums in his career, four with Force India and the other three all during a breakthrough season with Sauber in 2012 that earned him a move to McLaren in 2013.

He spent only one season at McLaren as Lewis Hamilton's replacement, driving alongside veteran Jenson Button in a partnership that proved largely disappointing. He has been with Force India since joining in 2014, and secured two podium finishes last year.

"Staying with Sahara Force India was always my priority. It's a team that has allowed me to show my talents as a driver," Perez said. "In the end it was an easy decision to continue our journey together."

It has been far from easy on the track this season, however.

Perez and the 21-year-old Ocon have clashed several times, and been openly critical of each other when trading vitriolic barbs.

This led to Force India's chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer issuing an ultimatum that team orders would be imposed if they didn't improve their relationship, which they both publicly agreed to do at the Italian GP two weeks ago.

At last month's Belgian GP, they tangled twice on the track, going wheel-to-wheel early on and then aggressively bumping into each other on lap 30.

In June they collided on track in Baku, Azerbaijan, with Perez having to retire from that race.

The friction began at the Canadian GP, prior to Baku, when Ocon was exasperated at his team's decision not to let him overtake Perez.

Perez finished in fifth place and Ocon - the clearly quicker driver on the day - had to settle for sixth.