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Perez ‘flattered’ by Williams’ interest for F1 race seat

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Sergio Perez says he is “flattered” by Williams’ rumored interest in him for a Formula 1 race seat in 2017 as speculation about his future continues to swirl.

Perez has a contract with current team Force India for the 2017 season, but was known to be weighing up his options for next season along with his sponsors.

The Mexican driver was linked to moves to both Williams and Renault, but looks poised to remain with Force India for 2017 despite a delay in an announcement being made.

“No real news yet, but closing in. So let’s postpone it – before the next race in Malaysia!” Perez told the official F1 website.

“Then I should be in a position to announce my future, even though I have the impression that it is already all over town.

“But I am a suspicious person: nothing is finalized until the ink is dry on the contract.”

Perez was asked about interest from Williams, which is looking for a replacement for Felipe Massa for 2017 after the Brazilian announced he would be retiring from F1 at the end of the season.

Perez said that while he was flattered by Williams’ interest, his plan is to remain with Force India for 2017.

“First and foremost I am very proud to be part of Force India. What we’ve achieved in the past three years has been amazing, so I fully believe in the prospects of this team,” Perez said.

“I am very happy here and it’s no secret that I want to continue my career with this team.

“Speaking of Williams, I do appreciate their interest. I don’t know that team well, but they had plenty of success in the past.

“I am somewhat flattered that they considered me.”

Williams is yet to confirm either of its drivers for 2017, with Massa’s teammate Valtteri Bottas also out of contract at the end of the season.

Bottas is expected to be retained, with Sauber driver Felipe Nasr and rising F3 star Lance Stroll under consideration for the second seat.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).