Mexican driver Sergio Perez admits to being ‘stunned’, when former team mate Nico Hulkenburg announced that he would be leaving Force India for pastures new.
Hulkenburg surprised many in the paddock by accepting a deal to effectively replace Hass bound K-Mag, in the works Renault seat. Sergio himself was linked with a move to Enstone, but discussions with his Mexican sponsors around his commercial arrangements stalled before deciding to stay put.
“To be honest, I was quite stunned about it,” Perez told Autosport when asked about Nico’s decision.
“I knew Nico was very high on their list and I knew if I didn’t go there they’d definitely look at him,” said Perez. “They are taking a great driver.”
“When he went, only time will tell who took the right decision but yeah I’m happy with the three seasons that I had together with him.”
Sergio & the ‘hulk’ were teammates at Force India for 3 seasons. The two drivers arrived in 2014 to replace outgoing duo Adrian Sutil and Paul Di Resta. Sergio was new to the team after his release from McLaren, whilst Nico returned to the team he drove for in 2012 prior to moving to Sauber for 13.
“We spent three years working together and they went really quick,” added Perez. “I think we learned a lot from each other.
“It’s time for Nico to move on to a new challenge. Nico had been longer than myself in the team, so he probably felt the need to work with new people, something different, to learn new things.
“It was great to learn so many things from Nico.”
This season Perez will partner highly rated young gun Esteban Ocon, who was drafted in from Manor as Hulkenburg’s replacement. Ocon is believed to have signed a multi year deal with Force India. Esteban should be a familiar face for Perez, after having spent 2015 fulfilling the role of test driver for the team.