Force India admits it should have tried team order swap

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Force India says it probably should have imposed team orders to switch Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon in the final stages of the Canadian Grand Prix, as it chased a potential F1 podium finish.

The team was embroiled in controversy in Montreal when Perez was reluctant to voluntarily move over for Ocon as the pair tried to find a way past Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo.

In the end, Ricciardo held on for third and both Force Indias were overtaken by the charging Sebastian Vettel before the chequered flag.

While Force India never went as far as imposing a direct order on Perez to move aside for Ocon, who was on fresher tyres, the team's COO Otmar Szafnauer reckons that in hindsight it may have been better to have done so.

For once the team had finished discussing the matter with Perez, it had become too late to use team orders because Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was right on the tail of the pair.

Asked by Motorsport.com about whether or not the team would behave in the same if they did the race again, Szafnauer said: "Hindsight is a wonderful thing because you have more information.

"What I would have done is perhaps swap them earlier – just after the Ferraris pitted. Do it then and it is easy.

"You can get your tyres back up to temperature and there is no risk from behind. Then, if it doesn't happen, you still have time to swap back. We didn't do that, we started discussing it a bit late and then after it was too late."

Szafnauer said the debate on the pitwall at the time about what to do was incredibly complicated because of concerns about the drivers losing time in a swap – and also running the risk of losing tyre temperatures.

"We contemplated swapping them to give them a go, but there are a lot of things that happen when you swap," he said. "You lose time when you swap, but more importantly, you lose tyre temperature - and tyre temperature is really critical.

"So if you do that, you are not back up to speed straight away. We had the Ferraris charging, so there are ifs, ands and buts. Looking at it we, will analyse it. But had we swapped them I don't think Esteban would have got by him."

Pitting Perez

While Force India's thoughts were about swapping the position of drivers, Mercedes strategy chief James Vowles reckons the Silverstone-based team should have pursued a totally different option.

He reckons Force India would have been able to hold off Vettel at the end – as well as have a double opportunity to get past Ricciardo – if they had pitted Perez when Ocon came up behind him.

Speaking in a post-race Mercedes strategy video posted on the team's official website, Vowles said: "The team tried to invert the cars to give it the best chance of the podium but weren't successful in that action.

"However, the team should have then boxed Perez. If they had boxed Perez they would have come out ahead of Kimi [Raikkonen] just after he had stopped, and that would have then put them in the situation where they had removed the options for Ferrari (with Vettel).

"Ferrari now have a car that was on 60 laps tyres at the end of the race, a very compromised car. We saw [Romain] Grosjean make it [after stopping on lap one] but it is not the fastest race, and if Vettel boxes he now comes out behind Perez, which is a complicated decision.

"It leaves Esteban trying to attack Ricciardo for that P3 and if he is not successful, Perez would have caught up again and allowed him the chance to overtake with much fresher tyres. That would have generated a good opportunity for Force India."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Sergio Perez , Esteban Ocon
Teams Force India
Article type Breaking news