Update: Force India Drivers Allowed to Race Together Once Again
After colliding twice at the Belgian Grand Prix, Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez will both compete on Sunday at Monza.
This article first appeared on August 28, one day after the Belgian Grand Prix. Force India officials announced a race ban that would exclude both Perez and Ocon from racing against each other in future contests. An update has been added to the bottom of this article, detailing a response from team principal Bob Fernley in regards to Sunday's Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
Force India drivers Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez collided twice at Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix, signaling some serious issues between the two teammates. This is the second time this season that they have wrecked into each other, and now with both Ocon and Force India officials concerned, they will not be able to race against each other in the future. Team Chief Operating Officer Otmar Szafnauer announced after the race at Spa that decisions will be made from the pit wall on who will compete from here on out.
Ocon was the first to express his frustration as Perez appeared to force him into the wall. He told the press that his teammate put both their lives in danger, and claimed he was going to "talk man to man" with Perez soon.
"He's supposed to be a professional driver, today he didn't show it. He has not done that with any other teammates, I don't know why he's doing it with me."
As for Szafnauer, he made the executive decision to not allow Ocon and Perez to compete in the same race.
"It looked like Sergio squeezed Esteban into the wall," Szafnauer said. "In the future they’ll never have this chance again. We’ve let them race up until now and, if they can’t do it in a manner which is good for the team then they won’t be racing (each other) any more."
The duo had already crashed into each other once this season in Baku. As a result, the team's point efforts were held back, further frustrating team officials.
Perez spoke out on the issue, admitting fault to an accident that he said could've been avoided.
"The second incident, I think that Esteban was really optimistic because there was no room for two cars," claimed Perez. "He had the whole (next) straight to make the move and it’s a shame that we touched because we both ruined our race."
"I’m very disappointed with myself. It’s the first time that I’ve done something wrong that I have to say this is the way. I think the first one was just too far on the limit, there was nowhere for Esteban to go but the other one was quite avoidable."
Update 09/02/2017: In a report with Motorsport.com, Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley announced that there is no race ban in place for either Esteban Ocon or Sergio Perez. He and the team denied any further issues between the two racers as they seemed to have made amends after last Sunday's incident.
Ocon responded on Twitter, accepting Perez' apology and agreeing to cooperate in future races.
Ocon eventually qualified for third place on the starting grid for Sunday's race while Perez will start in ninth position.