Force India may let Perez and Ocon fight after Mexico

Sergio Perez, Force India
© XPB 

Force India's chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer says that the squad might relax team orders on its drivers after this weekend's Mexico Grand Prix.

Szafnauer had previously said that they would allow Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon to compete without team orders once fourth place in the constructors championship had been secured.

Force India is currently on 159 points with three races remaining. They are 91 points ahead of Williams, with a maximum of 43 points available per race.

"We have just got to get through one more race," Szafnauer told Autosport magazine at the weekend. "Hopefully by then we'll have clinched fourth place. That's what it is all about.

"Then maybe we can relax and do things a bit differently in the last two," he added. That opens up the prospect of some exiting racing between the close-matched pair at Brazil and Abu Dhabi in November.

Unfortunately that will come too late for Perez for his home race this weekend at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez.

Force India was forced to imposed team orders on its drivers after a series of costly on-track clashes between the pair. Things came to a head in Baku when the team mates collided, costing them a likely podium, or even the race win.

The tension between them was still evident at the United States Grand Prix. With Ocon stuck behind a slow Felipe Massa, the faster Perez appealed to the team to tell Ocon to let him by.

The team said no. Ocon finally overtook the Williams and went on to finish in sixth place. Perez meanwhile was subsequently dispatched by a charging Carlos Sainz and ended up in eighth.

"Sixth place feels very satisfying because it was not an easy race," said Ocon, who had overcome a migraine and an issue with his car's control unit.

"We tried a very aggressive strategy," remarked Perez. "I passed [Fernando] Alonso on track, and then got close to Esteban.

"At the time, I thought I had much better pace because he was saving his tyres, but being in traffic really damaged my tyres and I fell back.

"It’s hard to know how things would have gone if I had got past Esteban," he added. "Maybe I could have saved my tyres a bit better."

Szafnauer said that the team had made the right decision to insist that the drivers held position.

"Even if we let Checo past, the team wouldn't have scored anymore points," he said. "We want to eliminate the risk and score the points.

"We frankly don't care which one scores the points - we don't want to swap them around."

"Esteban was managing his tyres better," Szafnauer added. "Towards the end could defend against Carlos.

"There are many reasons why [Perez lost out to Sainz] - including if you push the tyres too early, then you don't have them to defend."

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