It's official: Sergio Perez joins Force India to partner Nico Hulkenberg in 2014
Mexican driver will stay on in F1 despite sudden ousting from McLaren; Paul di Resta set to leave the sport; Adrian Sutil likely to join Sauber
By Sky Sports Online. Last Updated: 13/12/13 10:52am
Force India have confirmed Sergio Perez will partner Nico Hulkenberg in 2014, leaving Paul di Resta's F1 future in serious jeopardy.
The ex-McLaren driver has found refuge at the midfield outfit having been axed in favour Kevin Magnussen just one year after being hired to replace Lewis Hamilton.
"I think we have a very strong driver line-up for next season, definitely one of the strongest and definitely the hungriest. We both have a lot to prove," said Perez before revealing he opened talks with Force India at last month's United States GP.
"Coming here was always my first choice. This is a young team with a lot of determination and they've produced competitive cars for the last few years. It's all change for next season with the new regulations, but I already have a good feeling about 2014."
The long-expected announcement means that Force India will head into next season with two new drivers for the first time in their history.
Previous incumbents Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta face an uncertain future with the Scot almost certain to leave F1.
"Nothing went wrong with Paul Di Resta," commented Team Principal Vijay Mallya. "I like him, he's a great friend and hopefully he'll remain a great friend. But every team needs to move on."
Although Sutil is believed to be in contention to replace Hulkenberg at Sauber, Di Resta, currently embroiled in a high-profile court case against his former manager Anthony Hamilton, is expected to seek a seat in IndyCar or the DTM series with only Sauber, Caterham and Marussia still yet to finalise their line-ups for next season.
"Just want to take this opportunity to thank Force India for 4 great years. As a team we've come a long way in our time together," tweeted the Scot in response to the news of Perez's appointment. "But it's now time for a new challenge for me in the next phase of my career and I wish them all the best for the future."
Perez shot to prominence in 2012 with three podium finishes for Sauber courtesy of his ability to protect his Pirelli rubber - a knack which Hulkenberg is also famed for - and the pair's duel should prove a compelling contest next year.
"By pairing Sergio alongside Nico, we enter the new season with an extremely competitive line-up, which will go toward helping us achieve our goals for the new season," enthused Team Principal Mallya. "Sergio brings a healthy mix of youth and experience, and I've been very impressed with his recent performances. He clearly has great speed and plenty of fire in his belly."
How the 2014 grid is lining up
Red Bull: Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo.
Ferrari: Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen.
Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
Lotus: Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado.
McLaren: Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen.
Sauber: To be confirmed.
Force India: Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez.
Williams: Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas.
Toro Rosso: Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat.
Caterham: To be confirmed.
Marussia: Jules Bianchi and to be confirmed.