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Ferrari rumours are inevitable, says Perez

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Formula One - Grand Prix of Europe - Baku, Azerbaijan - 19/6/16 - Third placed Force India Formula One driver Sergio Perez of Mexico celebrates after the race. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Formula One - Grand Prix of Europe - Baku, Azerbaijan - 19/6/16 - Third placed Force India Formula One driver Sergio Perez of Mexico celebrates after the race. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

By Alan Baldwin

SPIELBERG, Austria (Reuters) - Force India's Sergio Perez refused to rule out a move to Ferrari on Thursday, even though he denied any contact with the Italian Formula One team and said the rumours about his future reflected his form.

The Mexican has been on the podium twice in the last three races and was a member of Ferrari's driver academy before his Formula One debut in 2011 with Ferrari-powered Sauber.

Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion, is out of contract with Ferrari at the end of the season and the 36-year-old Finn's future is key to the driver market jigsaw.

Perez, who is strongly supported by Mexican telecoms billionaire Carlos Slim Domit, has been touted as a possible replacement.

"Always when you do well in a race in Formula One, you are straight away linked to Ferrari. It's the biggest team in Formula One so if you are linked to Ferrari it means you are doing well," he told reporters at the Austrian Grand Prix.

"In Formula One, you cannot rule out anything. I've learned from that in the past. You never know what will happen in the future. So we'll see how things develop."

Asked whether Ferrari had made contact, Perez replied: "No, just rumours."

Those with long memories will recall, however, that in 2012 the Mexican denied receiving approaches from any major teams only weeks before McLaren announced him as their driver for 2013.

He subsequently admitted he had misled reporters.

Perez said on Thursday he did not want his team to be distracted by the renewed speculation around him, was happy at Force India and "we don't see a reason for change."

But he also made clear that continuing at Force India was not a given.

"I have been in this position before, in 2012, and the last thing I want is to distract myself," he said.

The McLaren move turned into a nightmare, with the Mexican discarded after a season and rescued by Force India.

He said last month that he would be "ready for it and up for it" if another opportunity to join a top team came along.

"As a racing driver it makes you feel proud, especially how my career has been in the past years, to finally realise that I am back there again, although they are only rumours," he said on Thursday.

"Ultimately I want to be a world champion...we'll see how things develop."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Clare Lovell)


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