Force India threatens Ocon, Perez with race ban

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Force India threatens Ocon, Perez with race ban
Jonathan Noble
By: Jonathan Noble
Aug 28, 2017, 8:29 AM

Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon have been threatened with race bans by their Force India team if they collide again.

Dr. Vijay Mallya, Sahara Force India Team Owner, Otmar Szafnauer, Sahara Force India F1 Chief Operating Officer
Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India talks, Robert Fearnley, Sahara Force India F1 Team Deputy Team Principal and Otmar Szafnauer, Sahara Force India Formula One Team Chief Operating Officer on the pit wall gantry following his pit stop, a broken front wing
Esteban Ocon, Sahara Force India VJM10
 Esteban Ocon, Sahara Force India F1 VJM1
Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India VJM10 and Esteban Ocon, Sahara Force India VJM10
Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India and Esteban Ocon, Sahara Force India in the media interview area
Esteban Ocon, Sahara Force India F1 VJM10, Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India F1 VJM10
Esteban Ocon, Sahara Force India F1 VJM10
Esteban Ocon, Sahara Force India F1 VJM10

The duo clashed twice during the Belgian Grand Prix – with their second collision on the run down to Eau Rouge breaking Ocon's front wing and handing Perez a puncture.

A furious Ocon later tweeted that he believed Perez had tried to 'kill' him twice with his driving – an accusation that his Mexican teammate later refuted.

But amid heightened tensions between the two drivers, Force India has made clear that it has lost patience with them and will no longer accept further incidents.

With the pair having previously rowed in Canada, collided in Baku and then clashed again in Hungary, Force India says the situation has now gone too far.

COO Otmar Szafnauer has already said that the pair will no longer be allowed to race each other, but he has now gone as far as saying that they also now risk being dropped for a race as punishment if there are further problems.

This is a policy that Mercedes adopted last year after Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg collided at last year's Austrian Grand Prix.

When asked by Motorsport.com if Force India would go as far as benching one of the drivers, Szafnauer said: "Yes. If it happens again, we have to figure it out. We would have to start thinking about who we would stick in the car."

Disappointed

Szafnauer said that the team was ultimately upset that Perez and Ocon had collided again, despite the outfit having given them every opportunity to keep fighting fairly.

"Yes, I am disappointed that they couldn't sort it out – and that the team has to now play big brother," he said. "That is disappointing. But the team comes first and that is what we have to do."

Pushed on whether he thinks Force India bosses should have been harder with the pair when tensions flared earlier this year, Szafnauer said: "If we would have done that initially, maybe this wouldn't have happened if we had rules of engagement.

"So you can say that we lost out on some points. But there is always that balance between the show and allowing them to race and pushing each other, and artificially controlling it, which we don't like to do."

Force India chiefs will hold a meeting with the drivers ahead of the Italian Grand Prix and explain its new policy.

"It was all mentioned [in the post-race debrief] but, before we lay down the law, we have the gather the information and openly discuss it with them.

"The rules of engagement will be changed. That is it. If there is no upside potential and only downside risk, then we hold station."

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