Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Hungaroring, 2020

Racing Point insist they ‘never intend to break contracts’ as Vettel is linked to Perez’s seat

2020 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Racing Point CEO Otmar Szafnauer said the team are happy with their current drivers amid speculation Sebastian Vettel could join them next year, when they become Aston Martin.

However he stopped short of stating the team will continue to run Sergio Perez, whose place is rumoured to be under threat, and Lance Stroll in 2021.

“They’re both contracted and we’re happy with the drivers we have,” said Szafnauer. “It is the silly season already, which I just can’t fathom because we’ve only done two races and we’re already talking about driver changes. But we’re happy with the two that we have and they’re contracted.”

But asked whether Perez and Stroll will continue to drive for the team next year, Szafnauer said: “It’s tough to predict the future.

“What they need to do is do the best they can. They’re contracted and, watch this space, we’ll see where we go. But our intention is never to not honour our contracts.”

Perez has been the team’s top points-scorer in each of the last five seasons. However given Stroll’s position within the team – he is the son of owner Lawrence Stroll – Perez’s drive is believed to be in jeopardy. According to Perez he has already received approaches from rival teams after news of Vettel’s potential move broke earlier this week.

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“Like I said, he’s contracted,” said Szafnauer when asked about the future of Perez, who signed a new long-term deal with Racing Point last year.

Otmar Szafnauer, Hungaroring, 2020
“Our intention is never to not honour our contracts” – Szafnauer
“Checo’s focus really is to do the best he can this year with our car. I think he’s had two great races.”

Perez rose from 17th on the grid to run fifth in Sunday’s Styrian Grand Prix, before dropping to sixth after incurring damage in a collision with Alexander Albon. “He a had a little bit of an accident but I do believe he should have tried to overtake Albon at the end, we had to pace to do it, it didn’t quite work.

“But Checo just has to focus on the task at hand, which is qualifying the best we can and put good races in.”

Szafnauer added there’s “no timeline” concerning Racing Point’s decision on its future driver line-up. “We’ve had two races, we’re in our third of the season and it’s silly season already. So there’s no time-bound decision-making process.”

He spoke positively about Vettel, who will leave Ferrari at the end of 2020. “From the outside, I know him as a friend, he’s is a lovely guy,” said Szafnauer. “I’ve known him for a very long time. Straightforward, honest and can be very fast, four-time world champion.”

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2020 F1 season

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18 comments on “Racing Point insist they ‘never intend to break contracts’ as Vettel is linked to Perez’s seat”

  1. The fact that Perez has a contract doesn’t mean anything for next year. If they find an agreement with Perez for him not to continue, that would not be considered as “breaking a contract”.

    The way I understand this article and Otmar Szafnauer’s answer is that both drivers are contracted for next year, but Racing Point does not want to breach any of the contracts: therefore they are probably discussing with their driver (either Perez or Stroll) in order to reach an amicable settlement.

    1. Correct @arhn. Triggering a break clause in a contract is by definition adhering to and exercising your rights under a contract. It is very clear from his choice of words that they will not hesitate to do so if Vettel decides to join.

      1. Yes. And even if there is no break clause in the contract, reaching an new agreement between the parties which would prevail over the original one would not be considered as a breaking the contract. I agree that the wording was cleverly chosen.

  2. Can we just stop pretending as if Perez is better than drivers like Hulkenberg, Kvyat, Heidfeld, etc? He has been going up and down his whole career and was lucky to be “up” when podium opportunities arrived. He had his chance to go up against an F1 champion and got destroyed basically. Vettel may not be on the same level as Max or Alonso. But he is way better than most on the grid, including Perez. Perez has been in F1 for over 10 years now and has grown to being a decent driver, nothing more. There is more talent out there. It would be a shame losing a 4 time world champion so that Perez could stay in F1. It would be fine to see him go. Just like how it was fine to see Hulk go. They’ve had decent careers. One lucked into podiums, the other lucked out of the podiums. You had your shot, now it’s time to make way for fresh blood.

    1. Funny, but you could say the same about Vettel, he’s had four world championships and that should be enough for anyone – hence why room was made for Leclerc and Sainz. I can still see potential in Perez, and like you’ve mentioned yourself, he’s managed multiple podiums, purely on merit and creating his own luck. Perez shows speed, consistency, racecraft, maturity and borderline incredible tire management skills. I would not be surprised if he put Racing Point on the top step this year; I’m not saying that he’s perfect, but I feel that you’re selling his abilities a bit short here.

      1. Potential in Perez after 10 years in F1? F1’s best don’t need ten years to unlock their full potential. You are talking about consistency. It’s the one thing he lacks most in my opinion.

        Vettel is a four times world champion and has proven to be among the best drivers in F1. He is on a whole other level than Perez who is just there to fill up the field. So no, what I am saying about Perez doesn’t apply to Seb in any way.

    2. Perez was not just lucky to be on podium as many of the podiums he earned, were purely on his merit of assessing situation and conditions of the race, and some incredible tyre management skills. His podium in Monaco came because he decided not to pit when he saw Hulk getting bottled up by Massa and in Bahrain, he overtook Hulk on safety car restart and got the podium.
      I would not say Perez is a world champion material, but he is a very good driver and can stay in F1 as he gets good sponsorship backing and can bring solid points in midfield. It would be a shame to see Perez go for Vettel as I don’t see the hunger in Vettel anymore.

    3. He is better than the drivers you listed and he finished only 24 points behind Button who was in his 4th season with Mclaren, Perez’s 2013 season wasnt amazing but neither was Hamilton in 2011 and look what he went on to achieve. Personally I think Perez is underrated, he is very consistent and reads races well. Also Vettel is hardly “fresh blood”, and his slump as been going on 2 years now.

    4. TLDR; for the machinery that AM is going to field next year Perez is the best points accumulator in the field.

    5. @spafrancorchamps didn’t Perez both outscore and out-qualify Hulkenberg when they were paired together at Force India, thus by definition making him better than Hulkenberg?

      As an aside, if you want to play the age card, Perez is actually three years younger than Vettel – if you’re arguing that older drivers should “make way for fresh blood”, then your logic would suggest that Vettel should be the one making way first.

      1. I am not arguing old drivers should make way for fresh blood. I am saying that average drivers should.

        Taking your argument, it’s the second qualifying in a row Perez gets outqualified by a guy that without his father buying a team for him, wouldn’t even be in F1 in the first place. Is billion dollar boy better than Hulkenberg now too?

        1. @spafrancorchamps no, it was your train of logic that seemingly you dislike when it is applied in a way that points towards a conclusion you dislike when you compare the overall performance of Perez and Hulkenberg in the three seasons they were together at Force India.

          Hulkenberg: 96 points
          Perez: 59 points
          Qualifying balance: Hulkenberg 12-7 Perez

          Hulkenberg: 58 points
          Perez: 78 points
          Qualifying balance: Hulkenberg 11-8 Perez

          Hulkenberg: 72 points
          Perez: 101 points
          Qualifying balance: Hulkenberg 12-9 Perez

          Overall, Hulkenberg held a slight advantage in qualifying trim, but that gap was persistently dropping over the years to the point where his average advantage was less than a tenth of a second by 2016. In terms of points scored, Hulkenberg ended up finishing behind Perez in 2015 and 2016.

          Going back to your original post, it seems that you will criticise faults in other drivers, but seem to then excuse those faults in Vettel because you seem to think that he has a right to a seat irrespective of how he is performing now. Vettel does not have the automatic right to a seat you seem to think he is entitled to – he has to earn it, and right now it seems that a lot of teams don’t think he is doing enough to earn one.

    6. Amazing collection of incongruences. I really wonder if you practice often or is just natural. Most you say is contradicted as you elaborate on it as others already pointed.

  3. Just kick out Stroll and do us all favour! Seb and Serg would be strong team, I’d even say that Perez would beat Vettel most of the time.

  4. But asked whether Perez and Stroll will continue to drive for the team next year, Szafnauer said: “It’s tough to predict the future.

    What is obvious, that there is something in the contract Perez has, which allows RP to break it or move him to test driver role.

    I don’t think it is fair, I am not convinced Vettel will find his mojo in RP to shine, but probably 4 WDCs are better than none when you try to build the team, which will attract top drivers.

    Mercedes did this with Schumacher, so why shouldn’t RP do it with Vettel?
    Seems very logical choice

  5. I think it is a no brainer to get Vettel into the team giving the situation, specially if you want to fight at the very top. If you want to be serious about being at the front, the best option is to have a proven winner (specially a WDC that will be available) as your driver.
    Don’t get me wrong, I like Perez but he has been 10 years now in F1 and he is no better than the likes of Hulkenberg, Heidfeild, Trulli and so… he is good enough to maintain himself in the category, but not to fight for wins sadly. In addition, we should just accept the fact that Stroll will remain with the team giving the situation.
    In an ideal world, we would have Vettel pairing Perez, but it is what it is.

    Stroll qualified P3 today, so maybe with a very good car he won’t look that bad.

    1. No better than Hulkenberg?

      Perez has 8 podiums. How many does Hulkenberg have?

      As for not fighting for wins, he hasn’t had a car good enough. The 2013 McLaren wasn’t that good (though better than the following 5 years of cars combined, definitely not as good as the 2010-2012 cars) and Sauber/Force India haven’t ever been in contention for wins in the last 10 years. he’s driven in an era where unless you have one of the best 3 cars on the grid you have no chance. I think he’s outperformed the cars he’s had to drive and compared to Hulkenberg has a far better record.

  6. This is not going to be a popular opinion, but as far as I’m concerned, Perez is done.

    He’s not got the talent to be in a top line team, and whilst Stroll hasn’t either, I actually feel that he’s better than he gets credit for. Too many people write him off because of his father’s money. But to be fair, that’s not Lance’s fault.

    Perez has been in F1 for many more seasons than Stroll, and really should be producing results which are noticeably better than Stroll’s. But they’re not.

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