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Force India F1 keen to keep Perez, Ocon for 2018 despite clashes

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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.”

Indy 500 analyst role part of looking forward for Danica Patrick

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It’s been 10 months since Danica Patrick last competed in an auto racing event and she is completely fine with that.

Patrick was last seen in a cockpit in last May’s Indianapolis 500, part of her mini-retirement tour from racing that also included a run in the Daytona 500.

Now she’ll be back at the track, serving as an analyst for NBC’s broadcast of the 103rd Indy 500 on May 26.

It will be an interlude to her post-racing career.

“I really don’t miss racing,” Patrick said during a teleconference Wednesday.  “I’m really happy. I selfishly set out (with) the intention I wanted to travel a lot. I’ve definitely done that. Also working on my other businesses.”

Without racing, Patrick is able to look over her “Warrior” clothing line and her Somnium wine. She’s also been a host of ESPN’s Espy Awards show.

“I’m not a look-back kind of person, I’m a look-forward (person),” Patrick said. “This is something that’s part of looking forward. This is something totally new and different for me. It’s coming at a place where I have a lot of history, but it hasn’t been my job, which is why I’m going to work really hard to make sure I’m ready, like anything else I do that’s different.

Since retiring, Patrick said she watches racing “when I can.”

“I’m not going to lie, I’m happy doing what I’m doing,” Patrick said. “It’s allowed me new opportunities like this.”

This won’t be the first time Patrick has served in an analyst role for a race. She did the same for some Xfinity Series race broadcasts in the last few years of her NASCAR career.

“It’s very good to have had that experience,” Patrick said. “Obviously I was giving my driving experience sort of perspective and that insight, which is something I’m going to be doing again. But it was a guest spot.

“This is firm and established, part of a small team of two with Mike (Tirico) and I. I think there’s going to be a lot more preparation involved, I’m going to need to know a lot more information.”

Patrick said there will be one difference in her Indy 500 experience this year compared to the eight times she competed in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

“I didn’t purposely look at the buildup of the day,” Patrick said. “I didn’t want to see the fans rolling in, all the pomp and circumstance. I really liked to keep it quiet. I wanted to just walk out there and have it be the event, not let myself get built up too much in my head with nerves, just the platform, the iconic event that it was, the millions of people. I just wanted to stay focused and go do it.

“This time, I’m sure I will see the buildup. I’m sure I’ll see the place fill in and turn from a quiet, peaceful, magical place, (and) at the shot of a cannon it’s going to start unraveling. That will be a cool perspective for me that I purposely haven’t really watched closely.”

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