There are more storm clouds over Force India this weekend, after Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon collided during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
There had already been tension between the drivers after Perez refused to follow team suggestions to allow Ocon past in Montreal.
But now hostilities have broken out all over again after the pair collided in Baku. It happened as they went through turn 2 following a safety car period. Perez was in fourth place at the time, with Ocon right behind him.
With Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel both hitting problems later in the race, there was a real possibility that without the collision the pair could have pulled off a double podium success or better.
“It’s a shame to retire from a race like this because I think we would have been in a position to win the race,” he said.
“It’s particularly bad for our team because it ruined the races of both of us, on a day in which other teams have scored big points.
“Between us, we ruined a great opportunity for the team,” Perez told Motorsport.com after the race. He was in no doubt as to where the blame for the costly clash lay.
“I couldn’t have done anything to avoid the accident,” he insisted. “I was next to the wall, and there was no room for me to go.
“[Ocon] was just over-aggressive,” he added. “In all my career I’ve had team mates who have been hard but given enough room. What happened today is totally unacceptable for the team.
“The way he raced today wasn’t right,” he seethed. “He did didn’t have any logic.”
“We will need to discuss the situation within the team and make sure something like this does not happen again. As drivers, we are just part of a much bigger team. We have a responsibility to do our best to bring home a good result – especially considering what would have been possible today.
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The Force India engineers attempted to repair Perez’ car. However, a cracked race seat forced him to retire 12 laps from the finish.
“The team did a great job to get the car back together and allow me to resume the race,” he said. “Even then, the seat broke and the team retired the car on safety grounds. It shows how unlucky this weekend turned out to be.”
Ocon’s car was in better shape. He was able to resume the race, and made it to the finish in sixth place to salvage some points for the team.
“I’m happy with our performance,” said Ocon. “And also disappointed not to realise the potential we had today.”
Naturally he had a different view as to where responsibility ay for the accident with his team mate.
“It’s never nice to have an incident with your teammate and it was costly for both of us. We both lost a lot of time and positions. Fortunately I could recover, overtake a lot of cars and score some important points for the team.
“We will discuss things internally and see what happened,” he added. “But when you are racing close to each other at a restart these things can happen sometimes.
“Sergio was very deep into turn one at the restart and I went on his inside. He squeezed me between turns one and two, and I was on the inside going into turn two.
“He was trying to resist on the outside of the corner and we touched. We need to review it together and understand more. For sure it should not happen again in the future.”
“It was a race of what ifs and what might have been,” added deputy team principal Bob Fernley. “It was a shame to miss out on a podium from a race that saw so much drama, but that’s the nature of motor racing.
“We will discuss what happened internally and come back stronger in Austria in a couple of weeks’ time.”
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