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Force India to implement team orders

NEWS STORY
28/08/2017

Other than the launch of his team's latest contender and an appearance at the British Grand Prix, Force India co-owner Vijay Mallya's various other 'issues' mean we hear little of him over the course of the season.

However, following another controversial performance from his Pink Panthers which saw two clashes and cost the team another double points finish Mallya clearly saw no other option than to speak out.

"I have been very happy with our overall performance during the season with both drivers scoring points for the team and racing freely," he said. "However, as much as I support competitive racing, the repeated incidents between both our cars are now becoming very concerning. Under these circumstances I have no choice but to implement a policy of team orders in the interest of safety and to protect the team's position in the constructors' championship."

The "repeated incidents", which stretch back to the Canadian Grand Prix and have seen numerous clashes ever since, most notably Azerbaijan, came to a head yesterday with two clashes both of which saw the warring duo push one another to the absolute limit.

In the first, for which he took responsibility, Sergio Perez forced his teammate into the wall on the run down to Eau Rouge on the opening lap, the Mexican claiming - with some justification - that as he battled Nico Hulkenberg on his left he wasn't aware of Esteban Ocon's presence on his right.

However, it was the second incident which drew Mallya's ire, another clash which left both drivers' cars damaged, necessitating pit stops, and the deployment of the Safety Car.

Once again, the pair had been battling for position, and once again Perez forced his teammate into the wall, leading to Ocon subsequently claiming that his teammate had endangered his life.

"I only saw what you saw, but it looked like Sergio squeezed Esteban into the wall and came out the loser of that scrap," the team's chief operating officer, Otmar Szafnauer, told Sky Sports.

"In the future they'll never have that opportunity again," he warned. "We've let them race up until now. If they can't do it in a manner which is good for the team, then they won't be racing anymore.

"They shouldn't be coming together," he insisted. "We've given them the latitude to race and I've always said that. We've told them if it happens again, if a Baku-type incident happens again, then we'll be calling the race from the pit-wall in the future. If we stay fourth it will cost us nothing, but it's definitely cost us points."

Told that fans want to see such duels, he said: "For sure, which is why we let them race. But once it gets to the point of safety margins and crashing into each other we've got to take it into our own hands."

Check out our Sunday gallery from Spa, here.

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