For Sergio Perez, entering the 2020 season with a contract and guaranteed ride until 2022 is one of the best feelings a driver can have.
Racing for a team that has become one of the fastest growing mid-field teams, the opportunity for growth seemed endless for Perez. However, on one fateful day in September, Perez’s career would change forever.
Despite signing a deal that kept the Mexican at Racing Point until 2022, the team wanted to sign former four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel. With his teammate being the son of the team owner Lance Stroll, Perez was the odd man out and ended up getting the boot.
This now bears the question, where might Perez go for 2021? A few rumors have been swirling around, and it’s time to take a look at some.
Originally, it was slated that Williams Racing would be the premier destination for Perez. With the team unfortunately having to sack George Russell to make room for Perez, that rumor was quickly squashed when the Williams Racing team confirmed that Latifi and Russell were going to be with the team for the foreseeable future.
It is unlikely Perez would be wanting to drive for a backmarker team, but if he truly wanted to stay in Formula One, he may need to suck it up.
Haas was another potential outlet for Perez to sign with. The struggling backmarker team sacked both their drivers ahead of 2021 and left two seats up for grabs. The rumor mill started swirling, and Perez and Nico Hulkenburg had their names tossed around. But as of late, several rumors on social media are suggesting that Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher will be taking those seats for next year.
Although nothing is set in stone, it doesn’t appear Perez is on Haas’ radar.
Red Bull Racing/AlphaTauri
Christian Horner said prior to the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix that while Alex Albon was favored to return to Red Bull for 2021, if he doesn’t for some reason, they will look outside of Red Bull’s current driver lineup to fill the seat.
This opens up a spot at both Red Bull Racing and possibly their junior team, AlphaTauri. Despite Perez never having raced with the Red Bull Academy in his junior days, it doesn’t appear that that will affect his chances to sign with the team.
Should Albon be sent back to AlphaTauri, Perez will have to duke it out with Hulkenberg, who is considered to be the frontrunner for the seat. Although both drivers have had relatively uneventful careers, the chance for Perez to shine in top notch equipment would help him rebuild his career.
If Albon does come back, then Perez might be thrusted into the AlphaTauri second seat sweepstakes. With Pierre Gasly already a lock for next year, Daniil Kvyat‘s status is still up in the air. Perez would be going up against some stiff challengers from Kvyat himself, Honda prospect Yuki Tsunoda and possibly Hulkenberg. The Red Bull camp seems to be the most likely option for Perez to land should he want to stay in F1.
There is, however, another possible option.
Arrow McLaren SP
Yes, believe it or not the IndyCar brand of McLaren is interested in signing Perez for the upcoming season in North America. Perez had expressed in the past that he was interested in racing in the Indianapolis 500 one day, and in an interview, McLaren team boss Zak Brown shared his thoughts on Perez coming across the pond.
“We would need the funding for three cars, and at this point, we only have the funding for two cars,” Brown told Motorsport.com.
“So we wouldn’t be in a position to sign him today, but it would be something that, in between the backing that he’s historically had and the commercial activity that we’ve got going on and the excitement someone like Sergio would create, we would certainly look to see if we could put it together.”
Many F1 drivers have ventured over to IndyCar in the past 30 years: Juan Pablo Montoya, Nigel Mansell, Marcus Ericsson, Rubens Barrichello and Takuma Sato are among some of the big names who have been successful in the sport.
Why not Perez?
That can only be answered if Perez can’t find a worthwhile drive in F1. It’s most likely, Perez will try to exhaust all his options before giving up and heading to North America.
Where Do I Think Perez Will Go?
Unlike some of the previous predictions, this one is very tricky. With so few seats left and so many talented drivers, it is very likely that some drivers will be sitting out this season. Kvyat, Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen will most likely have to find new jobs next year, but Perez brings in immense talent and lot’s of sponsorship money.
That’s why I think the F1 world will say goodbye to Perez and you’ll see him driving in IndyCar next season. I think Hulkenburg and Albon are the shoo-ins for Red Bull and AlphaTauri, and there is no way Perez will be driving for Haas or Mercedes. His sponsors will be able to cover IndyCar costs a lot better than the F1 costs, and it makes a bit more sense for Perez to return to his home continent.
2021 is still a mystery, so let’s see what happens.