Force India drivers told to respect each other

Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon have been told to race “responsibly” from now on after the duo had a series of clashes and crashes recently.

Sergio Perez (left) and Esteban Ocon cycle the track during previews for the Formula One Grand Prix of Italy in Monza.   -  Getty Images

The feuding Force India Formula One team members Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon have been told to race “responsibly” from now on after the duo had a series of clashes and crashes recently.

The pair made contact twice in the Belgian GP last Sunday, costing the Silverstone-based team valuable points, having already been involved in other incidents this season. At Belgian GP, Ocon had accused Perez of trying to “kill” him as he squeezed him towards the wall.

Now the team management has made its thoughts clear on the duo and told them to respect each other and the team position in the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday. Deputy team chief Bob Fernley said days of discussions had ensured that Mexican Perez and French rookie Ocon understood the expectations and they had accepted them.

Mallya intervention

“From a team point of view, we’ve got to make sure fourth place (in the constructors’ championship) is secured. It’s very important for the team and, from their point of view, they need to make sure they keep their reputations intact because there’s a future for them beyond Force India - for both of them,” Fernley was quoted as saying by various websites on motorsport.

“The chats that we’ve had haven’t worked, they’ve obviously had to be a little bit stronger. Vijay (Mallya) for sure has intervened a bit over the last week, and I think it’s behind us now.”

Fernley insisted that both the drivers are still allowed to race, but in a more respectful and less reckless fashion. “We don’t want to prevent that (racing). There are a number of situations in a race that you can’t control, for instance the start — how do you control the start when there are cars going in all directions? So the answer is we want to encourage them to race, but we want them to do it responsibly. And that is where the focus is within the team, and the team can monitor that from the pit wall.”

‘Growing process’

Fernley denied that the drivers had been threatened with sanctions, such as a race ban. “The first thing is that whatever we do from a team order point of view is obviously an internal matter, and wouldn’t be shared. We’ll deal with what we need to deal with as and when, but I don’t think there will need to be anything as Draconian as that,” said Fernley. “All of the top teams have the same problem at some point, all get resolved, and all move on. It’s part of the growing process. From our point of view it’s a nice problem to have, it shows we’re pushing that front end. It’s up to us to deal with it as a team.”

Asked what has changed since the post-Baku clash conversations, he said: “I think what’s changed is the realisation from the two drivers that it’s not acceptable. Obviously you’ve got a well established driver, and a young charger coming through. There’s going to be a certain amount of elbows out in that process, which is where we were up to Baku. What happened in Spa was different, and I think they both realise that they made mistakes, the two of them. They’re intelligent guys, and they’ve sorted it out amongst themselves, and realised it’s not going to help their careers.”

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