In a shocking turn of events, Sergio Perez is being considered as a contender to partner Carlos Sainz at McLaren in 2019. Perez expects to stay at Force India for 2019, but is in discussions with McLaren about a potential return.
However, McLaren have opted to remain coy about their driver line-up plans for next season. However, sources suggest that the team’s shortlist consists of Stoffel Vandoorne, Esteban Ocon and British teenager Lando Norris.
Perez was hired by McLaren in 2013, after Lewis Hamilton jumped ship to join Mercedes. However, the Mexican was dropped after a single, disappointing season. Now, ‘Checo’ has subsequently revived his career at Force India, finishing seventh in the Drivers’ Championship last season.
Earlier this month, McLaren announced that Sainz Jr will replace Fernando Alonso for next season. The 2-time World champion will be leaving F1 at the end of the year to pursue other projects.
However, they did not mention who his partner would be. This highlighted how precarious Vandoorne’s position is in the team. The Belgian has had a dismal campaign in which he has been out-qualified by Alonso at every race.
The 18-year old Norris was appointed as McLaren’s test and reserve driver at the start of the year. He made his F1 weekend debut at the Belgian GP when he drove Alonso’s car in Practice 1.
The youngster will be given another opportunity to impress this weekend in Friday practice at the Italian GP.
Ocon, meanwhile, is believed to have had a seat fitting at McLaren during the summer break. The Frenchman’s place is similarly under threat at Force India following the buyout led by Lawrence Stroll, father of Williams driver Lance.
Prior to the summer break, McLaren were also heavily linked with Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen.
But, in a surprise move, Ricciardo has signed a two-year deal with Renault while Raikkonen’s retention at Ferrari is expected to be made official at this weekend’s race at Monza.