Although reports floated out that Sergio Perez is bringing tens of millions in euros to his seat at Force India, team principal Vijay Mallya rubbished the suggestion that commercial interests are what made the decision to hire the Mexican.
“That’s against my basic philosophy,” Mallya stated during Thursday’s press conference announcing Perez to the team’s second seat.
“I’ve always said that Sahara Force India will not take pay drivers. I owe it to my team back in Silverstone, who dedicate all their energies and passion to designing and building a competitive race car, that I will not compromise that on the track. I need the best I can get. If you see our track record, we’ve never had pay drivers. We are committed to paying both our drivers. But signing Sergio opens up areas in Mexico and Latin America previously closed to us.”
Mallya added that Perez had stuck out enough on the track to be considered on merit, even despite a solitary single season at McLaren.
“Sergio is an exceptionally talented and quick driver,” Mallya said. “He has fire in his belly. He’s gutsy and he’s hungry. That’s what I need.
“It was a challenge to find (Nico) a teammate. We evalutated our existing two drivers, Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil. When Sergio became available, we necessarily had to evaluate him as well. In concentration with my colleagues in Silverstone, we decided to go with the Checo-Nico combination.”
Mallya was also complimentary of Paul di Resta, whose F1 future is doubtful for 2014 after this confirmation.
“Paul is a wonderful guy and driver,” Mallya said. “Don’t forget we gave him his first opportunity in Formula One. We were happy to do so. We put him in the race car and he remains a very good friend. Personally I hope he stays in the F1 paddock.”