A pair of incidents between Sahara Force India teammates Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon occurred in Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix, the latest for the two drivers that had also clashed in Montreal and Baku earlier this year.
On the start of the race, Perez moved to the right without checking his mirrors on Ocon, when trying to pass his old Force India teammate and now Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg.
Perez told NBCSN’s Will Buxton post-race he was entirely at fault for that incident. The start of the race is linked below.
However it was the second incident between the two of them that was the more important clash.
On the run out of La Source into Eau Rouge, Perez moved from the outside to the inside in the natural racing line, but Ocon saw a gap and went for it to Perez’s outside ahead of Eau Rouge.
That nearly put Ocon directly into the barrier and saw a collision between the two where Ocon’s left front wing end plate was sheared off and pierced Perez’s right rear tire, causing a puncture.
Both drivers spoke to NBCSN’s Buxton in the media bullpen. Here’s their comments:
Perez: “The first one was totally my fault. I didn’t select the start mode so didn’t have all the power on straight. Good start, then battling Hulkenberg, but I only had 50 percent of the power. So I thought I had a good margin and moved to right without looking at mirrors. 100 percent my fault. Really apologize for that one.
“The second one was a bit too optimistic for him to go there and make that maneuver. Both of us misjudged it a bit and ruined the race for the team. In the end I had massive damage and my car was too difficult to drive.
“(On the second incident), I saw him, he was there, but many drivers protect the line – that’s what I did. There was no room for him to go anywhere. We touched.
“I think today was a very ‘particular’ race. We definitely have to rewatch the incident. Mainly the second one, because the first one was totally my fault. It was not my best race. Otherwise not much to say.”
Ocon: “Well the first one I accepted. It’s start. It’s three-wide. Even if he saw me. The second one was way too much.
“Yeah. That’s just how not professional he is recently. I’ll speak to him. He thinks I’m a rookie and will stay behind. We risked our own lives for no reason.
“For sure not. It’s clear he didn’t leave me the space. It’s 300 kph… but put me into the wall. It’s clear to me. It’s clear to everyone else.
“He took a five-second penalty for the overall race and how aggressive he was. I will go man to man to see him and tell him the truth. I’m not going to be scared of him.
“It’s over out of the car, that’s for sure. In the car we race for Force India and we have to be professional drivers.”
Force India COO Otmar Szafnauer told Sky Sports in-race that after these two collisions, team orders are likely to be enforced going forward unless exceptional circumstances allow: “In the future they will never have that opportunity again.”
While both drivers sit seventh and eighth in points and the team is fourth in the Constructor’s Championship, this was not a good day for the team.
Ocon wound up finishing ninth, scoring two points, while Perez retired late with car damage.
Further videos will come shortly.