The Sahara Force India F1 Team will now implement team orders between their drivers after the latest high profile clashes between them during the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday.
The two banged wheels on the run down to Eau Rouge on the opening lap, with Esteban Ocon hitting the outside wall as a result, but both drivers got away with the incident without damage, but worse was to come later in the race, when, out of turn one, Sergio Perez appeared to push Ocon again into the wall, damaging both cars in the process.
Team Principal, Dr Vijay Mallya, said that while the drivers were racing cleanly and fighting for points, team orders were never in place, but after the clashes in Belgium, coupled with another clash in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix earlier in the season, they will now be under orders from the pit wall.
“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.”
Chief Operating Officer, Otmar Szafnauer, says that more rules will need to be in place in order to avoid further issues between Ocon and Perez, feeling they gave the drivers the opportunity to sort it out by themselves only to be shown they were not capable of doing so.
“It wasn’t the result we wanted and we left behind a lot of points after a collision between our drivers,” said Szafnauer. “This is what you get when you have two very competitive drivers who are fairly equal in performance in a decent car.
“It has happened to others in the past and it is happening to us now. However, we cannot afford to see this in the future, so we will ensure the team controls what happens on the track.
“We gave our drivers the chance to sort it out by themselves, but if they cannot do it, we will have to put some more rules in place and take the situation in our control. It’s disappointing to lose so many points when we had the pace to finish well with both cars.
“Until the clash we had looked very competitive: the pace of the car is something we hold as a positive because we head to another speed track, Monza, next week.”