Formula One: Force India confirm Perez for 2019, Coca-Cola to back McLaren

Perez in action during the Japanese Grand Prix.
Perez in action during the Japanese Grand Prix.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

AUSTIN, Texas (AFP) - The Force India team on Thursday (Oct 18) confirmed that Mexican driver Sergio Perez will continue to race with them in 2019, ending weeks of speculation.

The Silverstone-based outfit did not announce a second driver despite expectations that it will be Canadian Lance Stroll, son of billionaire Lawrence Stroll whose consortium took over the team earlier this year.

"I am very happy to finally announce my future and I'm really motivated for 2019," said Perez said in a statement ahead of this weekend's United States Grand Prix.

"Force India has been my home since 2014 and has allowed me to grow as a driver and show my skills on track."

Team boss Otmar Szafnauer said Perez was "one of the most talented and consistent drivers on the Formula One grid... He gives us valuable stability going forward and is a huge asset."

If Force India confirm Stroll as their second driver, it will mean highly-rated Frenchman Esteban Ocon will be ousted with only Stroll's current team Williams likely to have a vacant seat.

Williams this week said they had signed Briton George Russell, the current leader of the Formula Two title race.

In another announcement Thursday, McLaren said they have signed a short-term partnership with Coca-Cola - becoming the first Formula One team to have the drinks company's brand on their cars.

McLaren added that sub-brands Dasani Sparkling and SmartWater would also feature on their two cars in the three remaining Grands Prix.

"Coca-Cola has a rich history of sponsorship and a record of innovative activations and we're honoured the company has chosen to partner with McLaren," said McLaren boss Zak Brown.

"Formula One is changing, as are we as a team, and we're looking forward to introducing Coca-Cola to the potential that our team and fantastic, global sport represents."