Force India confirms Sergio Perez on multi-year deal

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ABU DHABI – Force India has confirmed that Sergio Perez will remain with the team for the 2015 Formula 1 season after signing a new contract that covers “2015 and beyond”.

Perez joined Force India at the beginning of the season after being dropped by McLaren at the end of last year, and went on to finish on the podium in his third race for the team in Bahrain. Although he has been outscored by teammate Nico Hulkenberg this year, he has still enjoyed a successful first year with the team.

Speaking to the media earlier this week, Perez said that he hoped that an announcement could be made soon, and today it has come, ensuring that he remains with the team for 2015.

“It’s good to announce my plans,” Perez said. “As soon as I joined Sahara Force India, I noticed the hunger and determination of everyone in the team, and I’m very proud to be part of that.

“I feel at home here and I’m fully committed. I’m enjoying my racing and we’ve already celebrated some special results together. It’s important for me to establish myself in a team and have some continuity.

“The team have given me a competitive car this year and I believe we can continue to achieve great things together in the future.”

Force India owner Dr. Vijay Mallya has long said that he intended to keep Perez for 2014, using the option detailed in his contract, and he was delighted to confirm the news today.

“I am delighted that Checo will continue with us,” Mallya said. “He’s a true racer who has done a fantastic job for us this season. The whole team has been impressed with his speed and racecraft, as well as his role away from the track.

“He has a very bright future in Formula 1 and we will do our utmost to give him the equipment to match his talent. I look forward to celebrating more strong results with Checo this year and in years to come, and I cannot wait for Checo’s first home Grand Prix in Mexico in front of his huge following of passionate fans.”

As a result, just three seats remain unaccounted for at the teams that are confirmed to be racing in F1 next season: one at Toro Rosso, and two at McLaren.

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

Hunter Jett Lawrence fans
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ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”