Perez should stay at Force India, says Mallya

Force India team principal Dr Vijay Mallya on the grid at the British Grand Prix, Silverstone
© XPB 

Force India team principal Vijay Mallya says that driver Sergio Perez should stay with the team in 2018.

"He is in the best hands with us, and I think he appreciates that," Mallya told Auto Motor und Sport this week.

He said that the only exception would be if Ferrari came calling for the Mexican driver's services as a potential replacement for Kimi Raikkonen.

"We have already commenced talks with him for the renewal of his contract," said Mallya.

"When I have to take a new driver I like to leave it late, when I returning a driver I like to do it early. Checo is a highly talented and experienced driver. There's no question about that and I'm glad Esteban is pushing him."

"I like to believe that my drivers are happy in this team," added Mallya.

"We give them a good car to race. If there is a Mercedes or a Ferrari seat, they'll obviously jump at the opportunity.

"I'm not going to stand in there way but other than that I think we have the best car. We give them an atmosphere where they are comfortable, they enjoy the team, their colleagues and they enjoy working together. What's the reason to move?"

Mallya once again played down suggestions that he was looking to sell the Force India team. He said there had been "no contacts" with any prospective buyers.

"Over 10 years we have gained respect and had success. I would now like to enjoy it," he added.

Media reports agree that the team will change its name to Force F1 at the end of the current season, but Mallya insisted nothing is decided. He explained that dropping 'India' from the team's name is not in response to his current legal problems.

"I will face my responsibilities in India," said Mallya. "But until now there has been only allegations and not a single piece of hard evidence.

"I’ve been charged with a whole variety of things, but let that be kept to one side and let the legal process take its own course.

"The potential removal of the word ‘India’ from the team name is nothing to do with the events surrounding me. As I’ve said before, we need to appeal to a more international audience.

"We need to cater to the needs of sponsors who have global businesses – and sponsoring Formula One isn’t exactly cheap.

"It was ten years ago that the team was named Force India. [It was] in the hope that there would be an Indian Grand Prix, which took place but sadly stopped after that - in the hope that we would have a whole bunch of Indian sponsors. But they preferred to put their money into cricket, so I have to look elsewhere.

"In doing so I also need to give a more international platform for the team for the next ten years," he said. "This is in a work-in-progress stage right now but certainly it’s something we are seriously thinking about."

GALLERY: F1 drivers' wives and girlfriends

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter