Formula One: Force India to Rein in Colliding Team Mates
Ocon accused his Mexican team mate of putting both their lives at risk when he squeezed the speeding Frenchman towards the wall.
Force India's Esteban Ocon during a press conference ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix. (Image: Reuters)
Force India have vowed to rein in fractious Formula One drivers Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez after more costly collisions between the pair at the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday. Ocon accused his Mexican team mate of putting both their lives at risk when he squeezed the speeding Frenchman towards the wall. That incident left Perez with a blown right rear tyre and Ocon with a shattered front wing, losing the sport's fourth-ranked team precious points. The pair had already been warned about their conduct after a collision at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku in June when they were running third and fourth. "I have been very happy with our overall performance during the 2017 season with both drivers scoring points for the team and racing freely," said team principal Vijay Mallya in a statement. "However, as much as I support competitive racing, the repeated incidents between both our cars are now becoming very concerning. "Under these circumstances I have no choice but to implement a policy of team orders in the interest of safety and to protect the team’s position in the constructors’ championship."
Chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer said the rules of engagement would be changed and the drivers told to hold position in future. "I’m disappointed they couldn't sort it out and the team has to now play big brother. I’m disappointed. But the team comes first and that’s what we have to do," he told reporters. Sunday's collision, on the 30th of the 44 race laps, brought out the safety car due to the debris strewn across the track and left the two Force India drivers, who have an increasingly frosty relationship, even more at odds with each other.
Ocon had earlier been squeezed towards the same wall on the approach down to the famed Eau Rouge uphill sweep and was not amused. The first clash, he said, had been both dangerous and unprofessional but he could understand it. The second one was altogether a step too far. "He just squeezed me into the wall at 300kph risking my life, risking his life, for no reason and costing a lot of points for the team," he told television reporters. "He's supposed to be a professional driver and he didn't show it today. "I will tell him the truth. I will not be scared of him, I will go and talk to him. If it needs to be mean words, it will be," added the 20-year-old Mercedes protege, who finished ninth.
Perez, 28, accepted blame for the first coming together and said he had not seen Ocon trying to pass.
"The second incident, I think Esteban was really optimistic there because there was no room for two cars. He had the whole straight to do the manoeuvre so it's a shame that we touched. We ruined our race," said Perez, who retired but was classified 17th.
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