[F1 2018 NEWS] FORCE INDIA: THE BATTLE ROLLS ON

The simmering rivalry is expected to continue at Force India, with Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon both gunning for top drives elsewhere in 2019.

The ultra-competitive pair got in hot water last year, clashing on-track in Azerbaijan, Hungary and Belgium – before the team brought in a ban on them racing each other… 

… an order that has since been lifted, the squad’s chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer sure Pérez and Ocon have learnt their lesson.

"The drivers have a better understanding and have matured enough so that they know, and we know, how to behave," he said.

But there’s a lot on the line…with first blood going to Pérez in 2017.

The Mexican outqualified Ocon 13-7, and outraced him, 11-6, when they could be compared. Pérez also scored 13 more points, and was the only driver outside the top three teams to score 100.

It’s a record that Pérez will want to continue if he’s to move teams in the future, the Mexican allegedly turning down a Renault drive for 2018. But, he knows how tough his teammate is.

SOUNDBITE (English) SERGIO PÉREZ,
F1 DRIVER, FORCE INDIA:
“Esteban [Ocon] is a very talented, young, hungry driver. That is not going to be easy. But I believe that I’m very well prepared, and with my experience and the way I’ve improved the last years.”

For Ocon, he must dominate Pérez – or risk his future as Mercedes’ next superstar, with George Russell waiting in the wings… 

"Esteban performed very well against a very strong Sergio Perez," said Mercedes’ head of motorsport, Toto Wolff, on the 2017 battle. "He has to take the next step and improve this performance.”

For Ocon, whose family sacrificed heavily to get him to F1, it’s a challenge he won’t take lightly with his end goal crystal clear.

SOUNDBITE (English) ESTEBAN OCON,
F1 DRIVER, FORCE INDIA:
“Mercedes AMG is my main sponsor this season. So for sure, if you are in a program like that –
the normal way is to be driving the Silver Arrow in the future, but at the moment I’m a Force India driver."

Regardless of the outcome, though, a strong battle between teammates pushes a squad forward, and with Force India taking fourth place in the last two seasons, 2017 its best ever care of 16 double points finishes – a close fight, on the limit, is welcomed.