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Perez, Ocon look to move on from Spa clash after clear-the-air talks

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Force India Formula 1 drivers Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon have held clear-the-air talks after clashing for the fourth race this season in Belgium last weekend, with both admitting to have done wrong.

Perez and Ocon touched twice on-track at Spa on Sunday, with the second collision leaving both drivers with damaged cars and costing the team a decent haul of points.

Force India’s team bosses looked dimly on the clash, confirming immediately after the race they would be implementing on-track orders to prevent the pair from colliding again, having warned the drivers after previous incidents in Canada, Azerbaijan and Hungary.

Speaking in Thursday’s FIA press conference ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, Perez confirmed that talks had been held earlier in the day in a bid to resolve the issue, with both drivers keen to put it behind them.

“I’ve had a really good conversation with him, personally, between him and me, and I think it’s time to move forwards,” Perez said.

“I think everyone has their opinion of what happened. The engineers have one opinion, the fans, us, have different opinions on what has been happening. But the most important thing is that from now on we move forward.

“The main objective as a team is to move forward in the constructors’, and we cannot afford to lose any more points. I think we’ve lost quite a lot of points in those races. We will move forward and I’m very sure that these things will not happen again.”

“What has happened before has happened. Now we can’t change what happened before,” Ocon added.

“We have to move forward. As Sergio was saying, we had a talk this morning together, just us two. It is time that we forget all of that and we work hard for the team.

“That’s what’s important, that’s what they deserve as well, that we behave as professionals, and we want to keep challenging the others, keep pushing them, and we have to keep that fourth place until the end.”

When asked if they had behaved as professionals, Ocon said: “I think we both crossed the line, that’s for sure. We touched, so of course, something was wrong in there.

“I’m not going to argue because it’s all behind now and we want to move forward, but for sure we crossed the line, and we can’t do that in the future for the purpose of the team, and even for us.”

Perez brushed off the suggestion that he would not be able to work with Ocon in the future, insisting there is no need for either driver to leave Force India to defuse the tension in the team.

“I think that’s not the way I look at things. I want to do the best for the current team that I am with, and I want to do the best results,” Perez said, having been linked with a move to Renault.

“I think we both know that we’ve done wrong in the past for this team. So my main target, I’m not thinking to run away.

“I think that working with Esteban is still possible, there still can be a successful partnership. I’m not thinking about moving elsewhere.”

F1’s Valtteri Bottas to compete in first-ever rally race in his native Finland

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Formula One’s “Flying Finn” is going back home for the first time.

More precisely, Valtteri Bottas is returning to his Finland homeland to compete in his first career rally race in the Finnish Rally Championship season opener.

Bottas, teammates on the F1 Mercedes team with five-time champ Lewis Hamilton, will compete in the World Rally Championships’ Arctic Lapland Rally from January 24-26.

He’ll team with two-time World Rally champion Timo Rautiainen in a M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC on rally roads of the Finnish Arctic Circle.

“This is a unique opportunity to take a peek into the world of rallying,” Bottas told Finnish rallying website Rallism.f1. “I would like to thank everyone who has made it possible.

“It’s totally new territory for me too, as I have no prior experience of a World Rally Car. Still, being the race car driver that I am, you always go flat out whatever the vehicle you’re driving in.”

Added Rautiainen, “In my life, I’ve sat in a rally car with only three drivers, but this is such an interesting mission that I just had to accept the challenge. I believe that for a talented wheelman like Valtteri, we’ll be able to establish a good basic driving routine in testing.”

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