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Sauber not expecting to lose Perez to Ferrari this year

Sauber is not concerned about fresh speculation linking its driver Sergio Perez with a move to Ferrari - perhaps as soon as this year

With Felipe Massa's early-season struggles already placing question marks about his future, and Perez being part of Ferrari's young driver programme, it is logical to suggest that the Mexican would be a target if the Italian team decided it needed to change its drivers.

But despite suggestions that Ferrari may actually have contractual means of moving Perez from Sauber, the Swiss team's chiefs are not worried about the situation.

Sauber CEO Monisha Kaltenborn said: "If there is such a demand for our driver then it is a compliment to us. It is not the first time it has happened.

"But as we have said before, we have announced him as our driver. It is our principle to do it on a yearly basis; that is our position on it. What happens in the future we will see."

Kaltenborn declined to comment on the contractual terms the team had with Perez, but explained there were no worries about her team facing a fight to keep hold of its driver.

"We don't see any tough time coming ahead of us. We know what we have in our contract and we are confident. And I think if we were afraid then this would not be the right business for us to be in.

"We have announced him as our driver. It was in August last year when we announced him, so for us this season it is clear."

Team principal Peter Sauber believes that Perez has made a good step forward with his speed this year - having impressed in the Australian Grand Prix.

"The talent is there," he said. "That is clear. He has the speed, the talent and maybe the possibility to use the tyres very carefully again this year. Without losing speed, that is very, very important. It is a normal process; with more experience he is faster and better."

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