Perez insists he's a team player after Ocon controversy

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Perez insists he's a team player after Ocon controversy
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Jun 11, 2017, 9:17 PM

Force India's Sergio Perez says he's driving for his team's best interest, rather than focusing on his own, following teammate Esteban Ocon's complaint about his driving tactics in the Canadian Grand Prix.

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB13, Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India VJM10 and Esteban Ocon, Sahara Force India VJM10
Esteban Ocon, Sahara Force India VJM10
Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India VJM10, Esteban Ocon, Sahara Force India VJM10 and Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H battle
Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India VJM10, Esteban Ocon, Sahara Force India VJM10 and Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H battle
Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India VJM10, Esteban Ocon, Sahara Force India VJM10 and Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H battle
Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India VJM10, Esteban Ocon, Sahara Force India VJM10 and Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H battle
Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India VJM10, Esteban Ocon, Sahara Force India VJM10 and Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H battle

Perez's defence of fifth place in Montreal had Ocon ranting on the radio, and his earlier decision not to follow a team suggestion to move aside and allow his fresher-tyred teammate to attack third-placed Daniel Ricciardo also came in for criticism for some quarters.

When asked after the race by NBC's Will Buxton if he was "racing for Sergio Perez or Force India?" Perez replied: "Of course, I'm racing for my team.

"The best I can do is give plenty of points to them, as I have in the past. I think we got the most we could, and Esteban had many laps to overtake me, but he was not close at all.

"I couldn't get Ricciardo, so I don't think he would have got him. Daniel was very strong on traction.

"When the team asked me to give the position to Esteban we were about to lap some cars ahead of us. And I thought that Daniel might get traffic, and I only need two to three tenths to get the opportunity on him, and I could see he was struggling and I knew the Ferraris were coming."

Perez also defended his tactics on the approach to the final corner, which enraged Ocon, who alleged: "He did a very late move at very high speed which could have left us both out of the race."

Perez responded: "I think I just defended the position as I would do to anyone – I just moved once. I protected my inside line, because Sebastian [Vettel], the lap before, just went past on my inside.

"I made a move to protect that. If he was fast enough, he'd have gone through on the outside. I was just trying to protect my position."

Szafnauer gives Perez his backing

Force India's chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer said Perez had done nothing untoward in the team's eyes when he opted not to allow Ocon through as it had suggested.

"We talked about swapping them around, but Sergio wanted some time as Ricciardo was coming up to lapped traffic," he told Sky Sports F1.

"We agreed to that, and while we gave him that time, the Ferraris caught up. It takes two to three seconds to swap 'em, so we then didn't have that time.

"Remember, Sergio had fresh tyres way back, and he couldn't get by him. So would it be the same thing with Ocon… I'm not sure.

"We talked about it on the pitwall, we thought it was a good idea. But we let Sergio have a go, because he's a great overtaker."

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