Force India ready to unleash once again its 'matured' drivers

Force India

Having learned their lessons from 2017, Force India's Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon will be allowed to race each other when the season kicks off in Melbourne in March.

The Silverstone-based outfit was forced to put both men under strict orders in the latter part of last year following a series of on-track encounters which impacted the team's results.

After a fierce rivalry in Canada, Perez and Ocon were at each other's throats in Baku but things really came to a head at Spa when the pink panther pair dangerously made contact twice during the race, with Ocon claiming his team mate had "tried to kill" him.

Force India lowered the boom on both men and implemented clear rules of engagement from Monza, but COO Otmar Szafnauer believes the lesson has now been learned.

"The drivers have got a better understanding and have matured enough so that they know and we know how to behave," Szafnauer told Autosport.

"So next year it should be a lot better."

Szafnauer admits he isn't a proponent of team orders but with a fourth-place finish in the Constructors' standings at stake last year, the decision was a necessary one.

"It's funny because you get criticised if you do and criticised if you don't," said Szafnauer.

"Some of the media were critical as they said 'you should've got on top of it earlier'.

"We were letting them race and when we did get on top of it they were saying 'oh they can't race anymore'.

"Looking back did we strike the balance at the right place? Probably as we've got fourth [in the constructors' championship].

"At the time I thought we could lose out because the drivers were often coming together and we were losing out on points.

"In Baku we lost something like 33 points and at that point it was so early in the season that I didn't know or could predict we would be fourth.

"Now if you look back you could say we struck the balance at the right point as we let them race and then after Spa we said 'let's not'."

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