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Furious Szafnauer threatens team orders

NEWS STORY
17/09/2018

Not for the first time, yesterday's Singapore Grand Prix saw the Pink Panthers, Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, battling for the same piece of tarmac.

And not for the first time, as was the case in Azerbaijan and Spa Francorchamps last year, it ended in tears.

A race which should have seen Racing Point Force India grab another handful of points, thereby closing the gap on sixth-placed McLaren, instead saw the Silverstone-based outfit leave Singapore with nothing other than a damaged car, wounded pride and a drive-through.

With Ocon out on the first lap, Perez' race went from bad to worse, the Mexican subsequently letting his frustration get the better of him as he sought to pass Sergey Sirotkin, a deliberate nudge at the Williams leading to a drive-through penalty.

Understandably, at race end, team boss Otmar Szafnauer was furious.

"It's unacceptable for them to come together like that in an area there's no run-off room," he told Sky Sports. "They've got to leave each other room. The team is more important than any one individual and we'll have to go back to the rules we instilled on them last year.

"If that's what they're going to do we're going to have to take control from here," he warned. "Once they're in the car it's hard to control what they do but prior to that we can control them. It's been over a year since it happened and it was in Baku last year that we installed the rules, it was after Spa if you remember, and from Spa until here it hasn't happened so we are back to the old rules.

"We allowed them to race on lap one whereas in the past we didn't allow them to race on lap one and now we can remove that. If they continue to do this, even on lap one, then there are other ways to separate them which we hope that we don't ever have to employ.''

Quite what the "other ways" referred to is anyone's guess, but with the team under new ownership, it is not impossible that Lance Stroll could be drafted in before season end.

Furthermore, with increasing pressure on the sport to find a berth for Esteban Ocon in 2019, it could well be that, despite his significant backing and a contract, the team's new owners might feel Perez is simply too volatile at times, something Lawrence Stroll is certain to ponder as he finalises his team's line-up for next year.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Singapore, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by ffracer, 27/09/2018 23:41

"I'll believe it when I see it, Otmar.

To all those that said he didn't see Ocon in Singapore, many experts dispelled that too. Just check the web videos and countless reports, Perez has done this numerous times, and to other teammates no less. His money talks louder than Otmar. Ironically, and for all the good he did for this lil potent team with facilitating the Administration, he has cost this team dearly. Hopefully, Stroll will send him packing and keep Esteban Ocon, the better driver with infinitely more potential and less malicious."

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2. Posted by mickl, 18/09/2018 14:19

"Perez's only real skill is making tyres last IMO. "

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3. Posted by PlayF1, 18/09/2018 9:40

"Perez is bad news for team mates.
He has regularly pushed them off the track.
Stroll has every reason to employ Ocon over Perez, not least for the fact that Ocon is probably the better driver."

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4. Posted by NS Biker, 17/09/2018 17:01

"If Team Rules will get the Team more points, than that is what is needed.
For reference .... see Al Capone Teamwork Speech, The Untouchables.

If Ocon and Perez had been under team instructions, the outcome for both drivers would have been totally different.
Otmar Szafnauer is right to install the rules, but they should have had them in place all along. "

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5. Posted by Mad Matt, 17/09/2018 12:46

"You may be right but I wouldn't want to jump to a conclusion from just one race. It seems to me entirely reasonable that he (or in theory any driver) might not have seen what Ocon was up to on the first lap.

The second incident is harder to defend, although I note Perez claims it was a simple error of judgement.

I have to admit that the two incidents together reminded me of Button's complaint about him when they were team mates.

Let's see how things go in the next few races....

I seem to remember a season where Hamilton seemed to be involved in a lot of crashes, wasn't it mostly with Massa? "

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6. Posted by Fambank, 17/09/2018 10:20

"While Perez has delivered some amazing drives the past few years, I am beginning to think Mclaren was right
about him, back then, even when that car was not good. While he isnīt that bad, his star has faded in this year."

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