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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.”

Penske won’t discuss if Castroneves returns to Indy in 2020

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INDIANAPOLIS – NBC Sports.com asked Indianapolis 500 winning team owner Roger Penske if three-time Indy winner Helio Castroneves would return to the team in 2020?

Penske immediately brushed off the question.

“We’re not going to talk about that right now,” Penske told NBC Sports.com. “I’m just not going to talk about it. We’re going to have a meeting about it before we decide, but I’m not going to talk about that right now.

“Simon won the race and that is what I’m focused on right now.”

Simon Pagenaud, gave Penske a record-extending 18thIndy 500 win on Sunday. Penske confirmed that Pagenaud will be back with the team in 2020 after he scored his first win in Sunday’s 103rdIndianapolis 500.

Castroneves was an NTT IndyCar Series regular at Team Penske from 2000 until the 2017 season. After that, Castroneves was shifted over to the team’s Acura IMSA Sports Car program, but the three-time Indy 500 winner was given a ride at both races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway the past two years.

The popular driver from Brazil is trying to join AJ Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears as four-time Indy 500 winners.

But the whispers in Gasoline Alley indicate his future with Team Penske at Indy remain uncertain.

“I’ve heard the rumors, too,” Castroneves told NBC Sports.com on pit lane after his disappointing finish in the Indy 500. “I will definitely give it a good, hard think about coming back in 2020. I want to be the rest of the season, here.”

But, will Castroneves run the Indy 500 again?

“Who knows?” Castroneves told NBC Sports.com. “Let’s see what happens.”

Castroneves’s bid for a fourth Indianapolis 500 was derailed in a pit road incident after his first pit stop when he ran into James Davison’s Chevrolet on the team’s first pit stop on Lap 30.

The front wing of Castroneves’s Chevrolet was damaged and INDYCAR officials gave him a “Drive Through” penalty for “Avoidable Contact.” Castroneves would ultimate drop three laps down but finished one lap down in 18thplace.

Castroneves explained what happened to him earlier in the race and how it affected the rest of his Indy 500.

“The accident that happened in the pits hurt us for sure,” Castroneves explained. “We had a problem with the fuel mapping, and I couldn’t go over 200 miles an hour for four or five laps. We lost 35 seconds. There was a bug in the system.

“Then, we went back out and that was it. I wasn’t able to recoup after that. I was excited. The car was very, very good entering the race.”

Castroneves spoke with second-place finisher Alexander Rossi, who was furious with the driver from Brazil earlier in the race for not moving out of the way, even though he was three laps down at the time.

The two drivers hugged, and Castroneves walked back up pit lane.

“I did what the team told me to do, and they told me to go as fast as I could,” Castroneves explained after talking to Rossi. “It’s racing and everybody is upset they didn’t win.”

Castroneves hopes his walk up pit lane is not the final time as an Indy 500 competitor.

But it could be.

“I hope I can come back next year,” Castroneves said. “I’m really upset as a competitor, but extremely happy for Team Penske and for Simon Pagenaud for winning the race.

“The good news is I go back to the Acura sports car, but I will be dreaming about coming back here again.”