Perez: Payment from sponsors never a problem

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Sergio Perez has laughed off rumors suggesting that there have ever been problems with the payments from his backers amid speculation that the Mexican driver is set to be replaced at McLaren for 2014.

Perez joined McLaren at the beginning of the season after a successful two-year spell with Sauber. He retained some of his backing from telecoms giant Telmex whose brand, Claro Video, appears on the rear wing of the team’s MP4-28 car. However, following his confirmation as Lewis Hamilton’s replacement in September of last year, reports suggested that Telmex may have defaulted on their payments. However, the Mexican driver has laughed this off in a recent interview with the official Formula One website.

When asked what the strangest rumor he had read about himself was, Perez said: “There have been so many. Probably the most nutty was that McLaren was not going to sign me because Telmex was not paying on time.”

A similar story has emerged in recent weeks as the team have confirmed they are considering a number of drivers for Perez’s seat in 2014, even if the Mexican driver has produced some good results of late. Youngster Kevin Magnussen is widely though to be his greatest rival for the seat despite his lack of experience, but with the MP4-28 proving to be troublesome for both Perez and teammate Jenson Button, it may be unfair for McLaren to write off the Mexican driver after just one year at Woking.

Perez recently spoke about his excitement for next weekend’s United States Grand Prix, with a large Mexican fanbase expected to attend the race in Austin, Texas.

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.