Following on from his controversially robust defence against his team-mate in the 2017 Canadian Grand Prix, Sahara Force India driver Sergio Perez has insisted that he would never disobey team orders.
Force India had the opportunity to score a podium finish in Canada with both their cars hounding third place Daniel Ricciardo late in the race. With Esteban Ocon in fifth on fresher rubber than Perez ahead it was requested by the team that Perez allow the young Frenchman through to attack Ricciardo.
Perez didn’t however, and not only did both drivers fail to pass Ricciardo, Sebastian Vettel overtook both of them to steal fourth. Ocon was visibly frustrated, but Perez can see no issue with the situation as he believes the team never actually ordered him to allow his team-mate through.
“The problem is that the press has created these stories – because I’ve never disobeyed an order,” Perez told Autosport.
“All we had was a discussion about whether to let Ocon pass me. But I increased my speed and approached Ricciardo, and that was it. At no time did I ignore my team. I am here to give the best results to Force India and if I get an order, I will follow it. But here, there was no order.”
Despite obvious frictions between Ocon and Perez, the former firmly believing that he had a strong chance of a maiden podium, Perez said that the pair spoke on Sunday evening to clear the air.
“Yes, all is well between Ocon and me, Everyone on the team feels there is a good atmosphere, especially after an excellent result and on a weekend where we were as competitive as we were.
“We should be happy because we added 18 points [in the constructors’ championship] – the same amount as Ferrari did today. Our rivals did not add much, so we should be happy and not focus on stories that I didn’t respect team orders – because there were none.
“It’s good that Esteban is at that pace. It’s important for the team that Esteban keeps doing a good job. I’ll keep doing my thing.”