Assessing Sergio Perez's Options for a Race Seat in 2014
Whilst Sergio Perez admitted to being shocked by the decision of McLaren not to renew his contract for the 2014 season, the Mexican also said he would not take a drive just to remain in Formula 1.
Team boss Martin Whitmarsh also told BBC Sport that he would help Perez to find a race seat for 2014, but with few places available with top teams remaining, his options seem limited.
But after a strong finish to the season, Perez still has good reason to think that someone will come knocking on his door.
Here are five possibilities open to the Mexican for 2014, some more realistic than others.
Looks a real long shot. Lotus are thought to still be pursuing the signature of the highly-rated Nico Hulkenberg should their investment deal with Quantum Motorsports finally materialise.
If not, Pastor Maldonado’s millions that he brings with him from Venezuela’s national oil company make him the favourite to land the final remaining seat with a race winning team.
With neither Adrian Sutil nor Paul di Resta yet confirmed for 2014, Force India looks an attractive proposition for Perez.
Should Hulkenberg fail to land the Lotus drive, the German will almost certainly move back to Force India. If that happens, there could still be a seat available if Vijay Mallya decides for a completely new line-up.
If Hulkenberg does move to Lotus, Perez may still be in with a chance for the same reason although Pastor Maldonado then comes into the Force India equation as well.
Marussia or Caterham
Marussia have yet to confirm the struggling Max Chilton in their line-up, and Caterham have still to decide on both drivers.
But it looks like a highly unlikely move, especially if Perez is true to his own words that he doesn’t want to stay in F1 just to make up the numbers.
A move back to his old team may seem like a backwards step on paper, but given McLaren’s current plight and the regulation changes for 2014, it may not be such a bad option.
Sauber have already confirmed young Russian Sergey Sirotkin as one of their drivers for 2014, but with Nico Hulkenberg bound for Lotus or Force India and Esteban Gutierrez yet to be confirmed for next season, this looks like Perez’s most likely destination.
Should Perez fail to land a competitive drive in F1, his most likely alternative would appear to be a switch to IndyCar and he recently said he would consider such an option.
Although there is an outside chance of a race seat at Lotus and attractive possibilities at Force India and former team Sauber, Perez said he will not stay in F1 just for the sake of it.
And with former four-time champion Dario Franchitti’s recent retirement on medical advice, a top seat in IndyCar with Chip Ganassi is now a distinct possibility.
"I am 23 years old so I have a lot to give F1,” Perez is quoted on Autosport. “But if I don't find the right seat for my future I might have to look to that option. It might be interesting to me."
I don't know where I am going to end up. I hope I can find a seat that motivates me in F1. If not, I have to look for other options. I love the sport, but there are many things that I do not like in F1 so I will not be in F1 just to be here. I really need to find a competitive seat that can give me the opportunity to keep showing my talent so I can be able to fight for a championship, which is my aim.