Force India to take time over Nico Hulkenberg replacement

Force India Deputy principal Bob Fernley told reporters at the Mexican Grand Prix that there was no deadline for making the decision.

By: Reuters | Mexico City | Updated: October 29, 2016 2:13 pm
force india, nico hulkenberg, sergio perez, formula one, sports news Nico Hullkenberg left Force India t join Renault. (Source: Reuters)

Force India could take weeks to decide who partners Mexican Sergio Perez next season, deputy principal Bob Fernley said on Friday.

The British-based Formula One team have one of the most desirable seats remaining on the grid after Germany’s Nico Hulkenberg decided to leave for Renault.

There is no shortage of candidates but Fernley told reporters at the Mexican Grand Prix that there was no deadline either.

“It’s (co-owner and principal) Vijay (Mallya)’s decision and we’ll start those discussions probably when we get back next week,” he said.

“I think we’ll take our time, have a look at what offers are on the table, Vijay will make his decision and then we’ll announce it.”

Pressed further, he said it could be “next week or the week after or even the week after that.” Force India are currently fourth in the constructors’ standings with three races remaining, including Mexico, and on course for their best ever performance.

Renault drivers Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer have both been linked to Force India if they are not kept on as Hulkenberg’s future team mate.

Manor’s Esteban Ocon and Pascal Wehrlein are both contracted to Mercedes, who provide Force India’s engines, and there has been paddock speculation that either could be promoted up the grid.

Sauber’s Brazilian Felipe Nasr and Sweden’s Marcus Ericsson, who have yet to score a point for the Swiss team this season, have also hinted at an interest with the former considered a more likely prospect.

Fernley said 2017, when the technical rules undergo sweeping changes, promised to offer Force India the chance of a “reasonably level playing field” for the first time.

“I’m very optimistic that the team will be very competitive in 2017,” he said.

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