Force India call Baku clash “unacceptable”

by Gemma Bray

Sahara Force India F1 Team will make sure both Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon understand that collisions like their Baku clash are “unacceptable”, says Chief Operating Officer Otmar Szafnauer.

During the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Perez and Ocon were fighting for a potential podium spot, but later clashed at the tricky Turn 2 corner. With a bad exit, Ocon pushed Perez into the wall, causing himself a right-rear puncture and causing extensive damage to the Mexican on the second safety car restart. With a broken track rod, Perez was forced to retire from the race, with Ocon able to continue and recover to finish sixth.

Before their clash, both drivers were running ahead of the Grand Prix winner Daniel Ricciardo, but with their collision leading to the cars being repaired under a red flag, the opportunity of finishing on the podium slipped through their fingers. Something that team bosses were unhappy about, as they knew if the incident didn’t happen, they could have been on the podium.

Szafnauer understands that the Grand Prix was pretty tricky with it being a street circuit but you cannot be running into your team-mate. Force India will be reviewing the collision in a professional manner.

“The worst thing you can do is hit your team-mate because it gives other teams opportunities that they really shouldn’t have had,” said Szafnauer. “It is pretty tricky too because it is a street circuit.

“Anywhere else Checo would have been able to move over a bit and they would have been fine. But there is a wall there. We will definitely review it in a professional manner, talk to the drivers and say this is unacceptable. We cannot be running into each other.

“It’s bad enough if you run into a competitor because that can damage your race, but not your team-mate because that can take you both out. They understand that. They are intelligent guys.”

When asked how he judged the incident, Szafnauer replied, “It’s 50/50, 55/45, I have to review it some more.

“But Checo didn’t get the start he should have, Esteban got a better restart and then didn’t give him enough room.”


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