Force India refuses to back down over team orders

Force India says it will not consider relaxing its approach to team orders until it has secured fourth place in the constructors’ championship.

Force India refuses to back down over team orders
 Esteban Ocon, Sahara Force India F1 VJM10, Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India F1 VJM10
 Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India F1 VJM10
Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India F1, Otmar Szafnauer, Sahara Force India F1 Chief Operating Officer, and Esteban Ocon, Sahara Force India F1 Team with the Sahara Force India F1 VJM10
 Esteban Ocon, Sahara Force India F1 VJM10, Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB13, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1 W08, Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H
 Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1 W08, Esteban Ocon, Sahara Force India F1 VJM10
Otmar Szafnauer, Chief Operating Officer, Force India, in the FIA press conference
Esteban Ocon, Sahara Force India VJM10
 Esteban Ocon, Sahara Force India F1 VJM10, Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India F1 VJM10
Esteban Ocon, Sahara Force India VJM10

Following a number of collisions between its drivers this year, Force India changed its rules of engagement – with Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon not allowed to fight each other anymore.

The pair were again forced to hold position in the Japanese Grand Prix, Ocon finishing sixth and Perez just behind in seventh.

Despite both men being eager to get unleashed again, and following the instructions handed out at Suzuka, Force India says it stands by its decision to keep team orders in place for now.

When asked by Motorsport.com about what it will take for the drivers to be allowed to race each other, Force India COO Otmar Szafnauer said: "After fourth is secure, we will sit down with everybody and see if they can actually race again."

Szafnauer said that it is possible that the current use of team orders could come back into play at the start of 2018 too, if Perez and Ocon have not convinced the outfit about their ability to fight cleanly.

However, he hoped that there could come a time soon when the team returned to the open situation it had with previous driver pairings.

"The team always comes first," said Szafnauer "If they can prove to us after this year that they can sensibly race together, then I am sure we will consider that.

"[Nico] Hulkenberg and Checo [Perez] sensibly raced together and they didn't crash into each other. If we had that scenario again, then there is no reason to always have team orders."

Szafnauer suggested that the way the drivers accepted team orders in Japan suggests they have well understood the mistakes they have made in the past.

"They are both smart guys and hopefully the lessons will be learned very quickly and I think they have," he said.

"Our philosophy here is always to maximise the team potential, and we have to do what it takes to maximise the team potential.

"Usually, letting them race and go as fast as they can maximises the team potential. But when they start crashing into each other a lot, then it doesn't maximise the team potential, so we have to do something different in order to maximise the team potential.

"That is exactly what we have done. When we are happy to let them race, and we believe letting them race is better than holding them back, then that is when we will do it. But we are not there yet."

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