Otmar Szafnauer says that Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon will no longer be allowed to race each other after their coming together on the opening lap of the Singapore Grand Prix that left the latter in the wall.
The Racing Point Force India F1 Team duo clashed a few times during the 2017 season with high profile incidents happening in Azerbaijan and Belgium, and both the Mexican and Frenchman were prevented from racing thereafter, although that was later repelled when they began to race cleanly. However, following their latest misdemeanour, team principal Szafnauer has implemented the same ruling again.
Although the stewards deemed the incident as a racing accident, Szafnauer felt Pérez should have left his team-mate more room on the outside of turn three, but the two banged wheels that pitched Ocon straight into the wall and out of the race, his fourth retirement of the season and the third that happened on the opening lap after Azerbaijan and France.
“An extremely disappointing race,” said Szafnauer. “It’s unacceptable for team-mates to hit each other and it has cost us dearly. They didn’t leave each other enough room and the contact put Esteban into the wall.
“We will therefore reinstate the rules of engagement we operated last year after similar incidents, which means they cannot race each other. This disastrous race is all the more frustrating when you consider the speed we showed in qualifying and the opportunity that has passed us by.
“These painful lows are part of racing and it’s fair to say that there are very few positives to take from tonight apart from the car pace. We will have some discussions behind closed doors and will learn from what happened so that we can become stronger as a team.”