Amid speculation that his seat at Mclaren may be in jeopardy, Sergio Perez has hinted towards changes in his management team.
Adrian Fernandez, a former racer, has helped guide and nurture Perez throughout his racing career, but the rumors suggesting Mclaren is looking at signing Fernando Alonso in the near future have prompted Perez to restructure his management team.
Team principal Martin Witmarsh is reluctant to extend Perez’s contract with Mclaren due to his relative lack of results compared to teammate Jenson Button. Witmarsh has stated that while Perez has done a good job this year under the circumstances, he has yet to convince the team that he is the best long-term prospect.
Perez has been tight-lipped about the situation this weekend, but has given hints that the restructuring is under way, with Fernandez’s absence from the Singapore GP Paddock being the biggest of them.
If Mclaren is to replace Perez either at the end of this season or at the end of 2014, then the doors are open to at least three drivers. Alonso is already under consideration for a drive at the team amid growing speculation that a lack of title success at Ferrari is getting to him. If the Spaniard is looking for a fresh start despite his outspoken devotion to Ferrari to the media, then Mclaren is the most competitive option for him.
There is still some lingering doubt that the relationship between Alonso and Mclaren is too tainted after 2007, when Alonso’s relationship with the team broke down to such an extent that he refused to speak to the team owner by the halfway point of the season.
The two other options are currently in the junior category, Formula Renault 3.5. Stoffel Vandoorne and Kevin Magnussen, son of former Mclaren driver Jan, are both in Mclaren’s respected young drivers program and are both leading in their current racing category (they currently hold the top two positions in the championship).
Magnussen already has F1 experience this season after he took part in the Young Drivers’ Test at Silverstone. Stoffel remains less experienced, but is regarded as more naturally talented than Magnussen.
Should Mclaren call either of these two drivers up, there will inevitably be concerns. Mclaren haven’t fielded a complete rookie since 2007 when Lewis Hamilton nearly snatched the title on his first attempt. That season had its ups and downs, and nothing like that can ever be assured to happen again.
The other factor to consider, should the team drop Perez, is the subsequent loss of funding. Perez is heavily backed by TelMex, the Mexican telecommunications giant headed by Carlos Slim, the richest man in the world. Should that sum of money be lost from the team’s budget, it will need to somehow be made up.
Alonso brings sponsorship in the form of Santander, the banking company, so concerns over money could be assuaged then, but Vandoorne and Magnussen’s funding is relatively unknown. That could be a major factor in the team’s decision.
For now, Perez will need to push as hard as he can to prove to Mclaren that he is a good prospect for the team.