Esteban Ocon has slammed his team mate Sergio Perez after the pair collided twice at the Belgian Grand Prix.
Esteban Ocon slams Sergio Perez for Spa crash
A rivalry between Ocon and Perez has been brewing all season, beginning at the Canadian Grand Prix when Ocon believed that he had better pace than his team mate, wanting to challenge for a podium position, although Force India refused to enforce team orders. This intensified at Baku when the pair collided one another, bringing out a safety car and ruining their own races which meant that the team potentially missed out on securing a maiden win.
At Spa on Sunday the pair came to blows again, banging wheels at high speed at the race start which saw Perez squeeze Ocon into the wall on the entry to Eau Rouge. Both drivers got away lightly from this incident and were free from damage. It was the second accident however, that ruined both of their races, with Perez picking up a right rear puncture and Ocon breaking his front wing when making contact on the same part of the circuit in the closing stages of the race.
“The first incident, I accept it even if I think he saw me in the mirror,” Ocon told Sky Sports F1 in a post-race interview. “We were three wide, but I accept that one even if he squeezed me into the wall and that’s very dangerous and not professional.
“But the second one is one too much,” he continued. “What is the point of doing that? He just squeezed me into the wall at 300kph risking my life, risking his life, for no reason and costing a lot of points for the team. He’s supposed to be a professional driver and he didn’t show it today.”
Sergio Perez accepted full responsibility for the first accident with his team mate in Belgium, saying that it was “100 per cent my fault,” saying that he did not see Ocon when running three wide with his team mate and Nico Hulkenberg.
With regard to the second incident however, Perez pushed the blame onto Ocon: “The second incident I think Esteban was really optimistic there because there was no room for two cars,” he said. “He had the whole straight to do the manoeuvre so it’s a shame that we touched. We ruined our race.”
Although Force India has experienced one of its strongest seasons yet this year, the strain between Perez and Ocon is proving to be costly, having dropped a number of points this season. This has led to the team considering imposing orders, with Otmar Szafnauer suggesting that this would be the case, minutes after Perez and Ocon’s second collision. “We let them race up until now and if they can’t do it in a manner which is good for the team, then they won’t be racing anymore,” he said.
With Formula 1 returning immediately next weekend for the Italian Grand Prix, it is vital that Perez and Ocon put these incidents behind them to strive for a better result at Monza. Ocon admitted that he was prepared to have an honest discussion with his team mate ahead of the race at the temple of speed.
“I will tell him the truth. I will not be scared of him, I will go and talk to him. If it needs to be man words it will be,” said Ocon. “I fully understand Otmar’s point – how many points have we lost today? We are running in great positions, it’s just a stupid move and there was no need to do that. How we can get the boss back with us, just by showing we are professional.
“It’s even worse for him – he [Perez] is 28, he’s been in F1 for seven years, so I guess he has to think about what he does.”
Perez is also keen to resolve the problems that he and Ocon are experiencing with one another: “We just have to talk and if we look back everything started in Baku,” he said. “But now we have to move forwards as a team. Today we lost many points, people are closing the gap to us, so it’s very important.”
Embed from Getty Images