Force India is aiming to retain both Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon for the 2018 Formula 1 season despite multiple on-track clashes as teammates this year.
Incidents between Perez and Ocon in Montreal, Baku and Budapest were not enough to prevent a fourth coming-together of the season during the Belgian Grand Prix two weeks ago, costing Force India a decent haul of points.
The team’s management looked dimly on the clash, introducing new rules of engagement for the following race at Monza in order to prevent its drivers racing against one another on-track.
However, Force India remains keen to keep both Perez and Ocon on its books for next season given it is currently heading towards matching its best-ever finish of fourth in the constructors’ championship.
“I think from our side we are fully committed to retaining them both, and that will be our objective. There’s no question of that,” Force India deputy chief Bob Fernley said.
“But, you know, driver markets are driver markets, and it’s quite right and proper that their managers, and in particular Checo’s manager, is out looking at other programs.
“He’s got to keep us on our toes. If he didn’t do that, he wouldn’t be doing his job, and we’ve got to make sure that we close that off and retain him for next year and keep the pairing.
“It’s a phenomenally exciting pairing. Might be difficult to control a little bit, but I’d like to have that problem.”
Though the NTT IndyCar Series hasn’t confirmed the date of its 2020 season finale, it has determined that double points won’t be in play.
An IndyCar official confirmed Monday to NBCSports.com that whether the season ends at Weather Tech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, or on the streets of St. Petersburg, neither race will feature double points. Team owners were informed of the change during a conference call last week.
The news was first reported by RACER.com.
With the original 17-race schedule having been shortened by the cancellation of at least three races (Circuit of The Americas, Barber Motorsports Park, the Long Beach Grand Prix), using double points in the finale would have carried even greater weight (and perhaps more so if more races are unable to be run because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
IndyCar has been using double points at select races since the 2015 season. The 104th Indianapolis 500 will remain a double-points event.
In rescheduling the Indy 500 to Aug. 23 last week, IndyCar unveiled a revised schedule that listed Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg as TBD for its season finale. The race originally had been scheduled to open the season before being called off because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
IndyCar CEO Mark Miles told reporters last week that St. Pete probably would be slotted into the first two weeks October after the Sept. 20 race at Laguna Seca that had been slated to be the season finale for the second consecutive year.