Wednesday, 24 October, 2018

Perez forcefully rejects Ocon 'he tried to kill me' claim

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Kristopher Love | 28 August, 2017, 19:49

The Force India drivers came together twice on Sunday at Spa, both times between La Source and Eau Rouge - once on the opening lap and then again later in the race when their collision resulted in Perez suffering a puncture and Ocon damaging his front wing.

The two collided after Perez squeezed Frenchman Ocon towards a wall at more than 180mph.

We've told them: "if it happens again, if a Baku-type incident happens again, then we'll be calling the race from the pit wall in the future".

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. Tension started when he put me in the wall [in Azerbaijan]. "There was no need to touch there". I'm committed to the success of Sahara Force India, and I'm confident that as a team we will put this behind us to reach even greater levels of success together.

"We have a big challenge ahead with keeping fourth place (in the constructors' table), and nothing will distract us from that goal".

"I'm very disappointed with myself". "But we will be moving forward, we are a team and I appreciate my team-mate apologising".

Speaking after the race he accused Perez of "risking our life for nothing... he risked my life in there at 300 km/h down by Eau Rouge, that's the first thing".

Perez added that he felt the second incident was needless, and that Ocon should have known contact was inevitable in that part of the track exiting the first corner.

The team were furious because this was only the latest in a series of incidents between the two and they are anxious the line-up is becoming untenable.

Nevertheless, the breakdown in Perez and Ocon's relationship makes it highly unlikely Force India will be able to field an unchanged driver line-up for next season with both drivers believed to be in the frame to replace Jolyon Palmer at Renault if, as expected, the Englishman loses his seat.

Perez and Ocon were informed of the new policy in the post-race debrief in Belgium and a meeting will be held before next weekend's Italian GP to fully outline it.