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Force India Drivers Take Their Battle to Social Media

The Force India drivers once again came to blows on track at the Belgian Grand Prix.

The tension between the drivers has been bubbling under the surface since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix when Ocon squeezed Perez into the barrier.

This time in at the Belgian Grand Prix, however, it was Perez that squeezed Ocon into twice into the barrier. The first incident happened at the start of the race. There was no damage to either car and Perez accepted responsibility for the incident. The second collision damaged Ocon’s front wing which resulted in a puncture on Perez’s rear right. Both drivers were able to make it back to the pits. Ocon eventually finished the race in 9th while Perez finished 17th. What was a good afternoon for the team with the prospect of a double points finish turned into disaster.

The fallout from the collision between team mates spilled on to social media where Ocon posted a video claiming that Perez tried to kill him.

“Tried to kill me” may be a touch dramatic.

Perez replied with a video of his own but said nothing about the second incident.

Quiero ofrecerle una disculpa a mi equipo por el primer incidente que tuvimos hoy. Seleccioné un mapa motor equivocado para el inicio de carrera y eso provocó que no tuviera la potencia suficiente en la recta. Prueba de ello es que mi luz roja trasera iba parpadeando. Iba muy concentrado en proteger la posición con Hulkenberg que no vi a Esteban y lo toqué. Totalmente mi culpa, ofrezco una disculpa por eso. En el segundo incidente creo que no había el espacio suficiente para que Esteban realizara el rebase ahí. Al ser yo el auto líder, la línea era mía. Él solo tenía su alerón, la línea me pertenecía. Estaba el muro y estaba mi auto, no había espacio para dos coches. Tenía toda la recta para pasarme, pero bueno… Lo que si me decepciona mucho son sus publicaciones en donde dice que traté de matarlo. Yo podría haber dicho muchas cosas en el pasado, pero no lo hice. Creo que somos profesionales, estamos en la máxima categoría de nuestro deporte y esos comentarios no me parecen apropiados. Lo bueno es que el próximo fin de semana volvemos a tener carrera. Voy a regresar más fuerte que nunca y voy a manejar mejor que nunca para mi equipo en las próximas 8 carreras. Gracias a todos por su apoyo! #nevergiveup #class👍👌

A post shared by Checo Pérez (@schecoperez) on

Speaking from the pit wall live after the incident, Chief Operating Officer of Force India Otmar Szafnauer said that they will now enforce team orders and they will not allow their drivers to race anymore.

“In the future they’ll never have that opportunity [to race] again,” explained Force India COO Otmar Szafnauer. “We let them race up till now and if they can’t do that in a manner that is good for the team, then they won’t be racing anymore.

“They shouldn’t be coming together. We’ve given them the latitude to race and I’ve always said that, but we told them if a Baku-type incident happens again we’ll be calling races from the pit wall in the future.

“Once it gets to the point of safety margins and crashing into each other then we’ve got to take it into our hands.”

Speaking after the race Ocon appreciated the risky move and understood why Pere made contact with him. “We are three wide [with Nico Hulkenberg], so I accept that, even if he squeezes me into the wall and that’s very dangerous and not professional,” he said.

He did not take lightly to the second incident however. Saying that it was just too much. “The second one is just too much. You know, what’s the point in doing that? He just squeezed me into the wall at 300km/h, risking my life, risking his life for no reason and costing the team a lot of points. He’s supposed to be a professional driver and he didn’t show it today,” the young Frenchman added.

Perez accepted the responsibility for the first incident at the start of the race but did not think that the second incident is his fault. He said Ocon was optimistic attempting a pass on the outside.

“The second incident I think Esteban was really optimistic, because there was no room for two cars. He had the whole straight to do the manoeuvre. It was just too much on the limit. It’s a shame that we touched because it ruined our race,” said the Mexican.

Team Orders

Team Principal Vijay Mallya says he’s become more concerned about the incidents between the two drivers and has no choice to implement team order.

“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 Mallya.

“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.”

About Ritesh K Bhana

Ritesh likes to think he is a true Tifosi, but he still remains fair to other teams. He supports two other teams which are not Red Bull and McLaren. Follow Ritesh on twitter @Humanshield_1

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