Pérez on McLaren shortlist, says Brown

There is speculation that Sergio Pérez might rejoin McLaren. (Reuters pic)

MONZA: Mexican Sergio Pérez is on a four-man McLaren shortlist of potential drivers for 2019, team principal Zak Brown said on Saturday.

The 28-year-old Force India driver spent an unhappy season at the former champions in 2013, long before Brown arrived at McLaren, but has restored his reputation as a quick and competitive racer.

The Mexican has said he has a contract already signed but has given no further details. It has been widely assumed he will be staying with his current team, who were rescued from administration last month.

McLaren have already signed Spaniard Carlos Sainz from Renault as a replacement for departing double world champion and compatriot Fernando Alonso, but Brown said nothing had been signed with anybody else.

Others under consideration are Belgian incumbent Stoffel Vandoorne, whose days appear to be numbered after a disappointing season, British reserve Lando Norris, and Mercedes-backed Frenchman Esteban Ocon.

Of the four, Norris would appear to be in pole position but Brown, a big fan of the teenage F2 contender, was not discounting other options.

“We think Sergio’s a good racing car driver, he’s raced here before,” Brown told reporters at the Italian Grand Prix when asked about Perez.

“I think the driver market is fluid, you need to keep all your options open. We have a shortlist of about four drivers and we think Sergio deserves to be on that list.

“Ultimately sometimes you are in a position where you can make that decision and some decisions are made for you. Maybe someone’s going to announce that’s on our list tomorrow morning,” added the American.

Brown said experience was important, particularly for a team such as McLaren wrestling with an uncompetitive car.

“If you go with young drivers, their lack of experience is something you need to take into account,” said Brown.

Force India are under new ownership after being taken over by a consortium led by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll, father of Williams driver Lance.

The younger Stroll is expected to switch to Force India, with Ocon looking the likely candidate to be moving on but without an obvious destination.