Otmar Szafnauer says the fact that Racing Point took so long to decide to sign Sebastian Vettel is a credit to Sergio Perez.
As soon as it was announced that Vettel would be leaving Ferrari at the end of the 2020 season, rumours began to swirl about the German joining the team that will become Aston Martin for 2021 and beyond.
Those rumours were finally put to rest just before the Tuscan Grand Prix when it was confirmed he’d be replacing Perez and, according to the Racing Point team principal, the Mexican’s abilities made it a hard decision to make.
“We had been talking to Sebastian for quite some time,” Szafnauer told Sky Sports F1.
“The decision was made on Wednesday. It wasn’t easy. Sergio served us well and is a great racer. He is quick and is a safe pair of hands on a Sunday. He especially doesn’t make many mistakes and brings the points in.
“It wasn’t that easy and I think that is a compliment to Sergio for us to deliberate for so long whether to take a four-time World Champion with all the experience that Sebastian brings or stay with Sergio.
“Ultimately, with Aston Martin coming in, it’s right to get that experience in, experience with a top team. That’s what Aston Martin aspires to be so I think we did the right thing.”
Tengo algo que anunciarles…
¡Gracias por su apoyo todo este tiempo!
— Sergio Pérez (@SChecoPerez) September 9, 2020
Many feel that the team mistreated Perez after he stated that he only find out he’d be replaced by Vettel the day before the announcement was made.
However, Szafnauer says that’s not strictly true.
“Well I think that is a bit of misnomer there,” Szafnauer said.
“He did have an inkling and did know. We kept his manager informed of the process all the way through. But like I say, it wasn’t an easy decision and that is credit to him because he has done such a great job for us.
“But he was kept aware of what was going on. What he didn’t know, because the decision wasn’t made, was what the definitive action was going to be and that’s what he learned on Wednesday.
Asked if Perez had a fixed contract in place for 2021, he added: “Well we usually don’t talk about contract stuff. It’s confidential.
“We don’t like to talk about that but you can imagine there were options in there that we could have exercised or couldn’t.”