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Motor racing - Perez keen to confirm 2017 seat in coming week

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Force India's Sergio Perez of Mexico enters the Marina Bay Circuit ahead of the Singapore F1 Grand Prix Night Race in Singapore, September 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jeremy Lee
Force India's Sergio Perez of Mexico enters the Marina Bay Circuit ahead of the Singapore F1 Grand Prix Night Race in Singapore, September 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jeremy Lee

By Abhishek Takle

SEPANG, Malaysia (Reuters) - Force India's Sergio Perez hopes to shed some light on where he will be driving in 2017 by the end of next week, with the Mexican conducting negotiations that he described as key to his Formula One career.

"I believe that next week is crucial to sort out my future," Perez told reporters at the Sepang circuit on Thursday as he prepares for this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix.

"I really hope that by next weekend we will all know."

Perez's future has been the subject of speculation for some time with Force India team principal Vijay Mallya saying in July that both the Mexican and his German team mate Nico Hulkenberg would be staying at the team next season.

Shortly after, Hulkenberg confirmed he would remain with the Silverstone-based team in 2017 but Perez's situation has been complicated by the commercial deals his sponsors have to strike as part of any agreement for him to drive.

"My deals are quite complicated," said the 26-year-old, who is strongly supported by Mexican telecoms billionaire Carlos Slim Domit.

"Obviously my sponsors have to do the deals first, etc, so we must make sure that everything is in place and hopefully they can come into an agreement soon."

Perez has finished third twice this season and has been linked in the media with a move to the Renault factory team, who currently field Briton Jolyon Palmer and Dane Kevin Magnussen as their two drivers.

The Mexican, who has rebuilt his career at Force India after being dropped by McLaren in 2013, had also been mentioned as a possible Ferrari target but the Italian outfit opted to retain 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen for another season.

On Thursday, Perez, eighth in the overall standings and 20 points ahead of Hulkenberg, said he was negotiating with only one team.

"There are some other options on the table, quite interesting options but at the moment I hope that it works out with one team," he said.

"And if it doesn't by next week, obviously we will have to look (at) something else."

Perez made his Formula One breakthrough in Malaysia when he drove his Sauber to a second-place finish behind Ferrari's Fernando Alonso in 2012.

(Editing by John O'Brien)


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