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Force India to change F1 team orders policy, Perez denies responsibility after Canadian GP podium loss
Posted By: Editor   |  13 Jun 2017   |  8:07 pm GMT  |  74 comments

Following the duel between Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon in the closing stages of the Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix, Force India is to change its approach on team instructions.

Perez has also denied that he refused to comply with team orders to let Ocon by for a shot at overtaking eventual podium finisher Daniel Ricciardo, who was on slower tyres than the pair and older tyres than Ocon.

JA revealed that there were five conversations in total about the situation with Perez ahead of his team-mate, who ended up in sixth, just 0.240 seconds behind the Mexican.

Read more analysis: How Force India threw away a podium in Canadian GP – and not the way you think.

The analysis also goes on to explain that Force India missed a potential podium for either driver in not pitting Perez for new tyres on lap 42 to implement a ‘pincer’ move on Ricciardo.

JA concluded that “Staying put and allowing the lead car on slower tyres to stay ahead was a lose-lose.”

However, Perez told Autosport on Tuesday that “the press has created these stories – because I’ve never disobeyed an order.

“All we had was a discussion about whether to let Ocon pass me.

“But I increased my speed and approached Ricciardo, and that was it. At no time did I ignore my team.

“I am here to give the best results to Force India and if I get an order, I will follow it. But here, there was no order.”

Deputy Team Principal Bob Fernley said, “maybe have to review our positions on how we do things in the future.

“If we have to change the policy of how we work, that is a separate decision. We have always allowed the drivers to race.

“We should not have recriminations on that at the end of the day.

“From a fan point of view, you cannot have it both ways. You cannot complain when people make switches [between drivers] and say they want them to race, and when they race say you want it the other way around.

“So, our policy has been let them race and that is what we did.”

Team Principal Vijay Mallya also tweeted: “our policy of no team orders continues but I will specify guidelines to achieve best team result”

However, Chief Operating Office Otmar Szafnauer told Auto Motor und Sport that neither driver had a chance at earning a podium spot, nor was there a chance to keep Vettel, who had overtaken the duo with just a couple of laps to go, at bay.

“In order to overtake Ricciardo, we would have to have been faster than him by a second per lap. That was neither the case for Perez nor Ocon,” said Szafnauer

“If Sergio couldn’t pass Ricciardo as one of the best overtakers in the field and Esteban could not overtake Perez, we can’t expect Ocon to have passed Ricciardo.

“The Ferrari is a faster car than ours.

“Vettel had softer and newer tires than we did. It would be naive to believe that he would not have overtaken us if we had not changed the order.”

“We have given Esteban half a year to acclimatise with us. He made it before the end of the first half of the season and is getting closer and closer to Sergio,” said Technical Director Andy Green to Auto Motor und Sport.

“That shows that we have chosen the right driver.”

Ocon said after the race, “I am confident it won’t be the last time we will fight at this level and it was an awesome feeling – a really enjoyable race.

“Just a shame we couldn’t overtake Ricciardo,” he added.

“My time will come.”

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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

Ocon is proving his worth quickly. Better decision making by analysts could have & should have been implemented. Pretty basic stuff, Force India. Toro Rosso are aiming @ 5th come end 2017. They really only have one competitive chap in their squad, YOU HAVE TWO! Fifth place can be grabbed, if better forward objectives are in place.


Whatever the reasoning, Perez has perminently damaged his rep. Who wants a guy like this in the team


So basically FI disagree with James’ analysis. Would be interesting to see a more detailed explanation as to why…


Not necessarily. James’ analysis says that the team’s mistake was not to switch Perez to a two stop strategy. FI only talks about swapping the drives around, that they would have not gained anything from that. They don’t mention missed opportunity by not pitting Perez again. After James’ analysis which was an eye opener, I am totally with him, FI made mistake by not switching Perez to a two-stop strategy. Yet I am also with FI, once they did make that mistake, it’s good that they left things as they were. And I am totally with Perez too. How would he look like if he moved over after a mere suggestion to do so? Today we would have had totally different but equally interesting topic where people would be saying he is not a proper racing driver and should not be in F1 for giving position to his team-mate when not explicitly told to do so. If he was issued a clear order Ross Brawn or Ron Dennis style, it would have been a different matter. But he wasn’t.

Carlos Marques

What would Ross Brawn have done? He would calmly come on the radio and say “Perez, move over. I want Ocon to attack Ricciardo for the next few laps. He’s our chance for a podium and maximum points for the team. If it doesn’t work out I’ll switch you guys back again. Over.”

That would be it. No discussion. Just do it. Today’s team principals today are way too PC…


Agreed. He would have given Ocon three laps to get it done or hand the place back to SP

Once they missed the opportunity to do the pincer with SP on a 2 stop ( which would also have blocked VET 2 stop surge) then there was significant threat from behind, so leaving them as they were was a mistake


The problem is not if team orders should have been given or not. The problem is Ocon being to soft/causious. He should have tried to overtake Perez way sooner. I understand he’s still a rookie, new to the team, nr.2 status, behind a team member and both a chance for p3/4/5 which is rare for a team like Force india. But in the end you are the one in that car. If you are faster prove it, If you a real racer show it, I you wanna step on that podium then do it. Let’s see if he’s more agressive next time.


This is a storm in a teacup. No driver in F1 is there to play wet nurse to their team-mate, and unless the team issues a *very* clear ORDER (not a mere suggestion) then they are not going to jump out of the way. It looked selfish, but you, I or anyone else would have done the same in Perez’s position. Furthermore, look at the points that Perez has won for the team in the last 24 months; no one can say that he hasn’t earned the right to defend his position. I absolutely love what I have seen of Ocon, but I also want them to race freely without resorting to Ferrari-style subjugation of either driver.


Analysis was great. Very sorry one of the pink cars missed out on a podium. That would have been nice for the sport. Be braver next time. 🙂


Very disingenuous statements by Perez. Just admit you ignored team orders as everyone knows you did! He would be better off just saying FI should not have team orders.

Szafnauer is lying as well. Ocon was obviously faster than Perez on newer tires. There’s no way to evaluate if he was 1 sec slower than RIC behind Perez. From Ocon’s point of view, he wanted to avoid contact with Perez that could wreck both cars. I’m not saying team orders are necessarily a good thing, but they exist to maximize Constructors points and it’s clear Perez put his own results ahead of the team. I can’t imagine Ferrari or Mercedes are impressed.


Actually I’m with Checo on this (to an extent). He definitely should have moved over (or been pitted, as the excellent strategy analysis showed) but the team should have given him an order. In the end, it was only a discussion that we heard from the radio feeds.

David Coulthard tells the story of when he moved over for Mika Hakkinen at Jerez in 1997. Ron Dennis eventually ordered him out of the way by saying “you are severely jeopardising your position in the team” to DC if he didn’t comply. To issue that kind of threat would be seen as heavy-handed today but maybe teams still need it as a nucelar option when the result could cost the team financially and reputationally (admittedly, as I’ve said before, FI are 4th in the constructors’ by some margin so the cost was probably not as high in this instance). If any good comes out of this, though, is that maybe they will come up with a system that means a “nuclear” order is less likely to be required.


@ Rishi, I seem to recall that Barrichello was given the same option when racing in front of Schumacher. He chose to maintain his employment with Ferrari.


I think Ocon, if he had the pace as indicated, should have just passed Perez. If he was unable to do that he would be unable to pass Ric. Isn’t that correct?

Anthony Jenkins

I was at the race. Ocon ran Perez close for many laps. not attempting to pass. I think he could have. Vettel certianly could, to the detriment of Force India. Perez star has stalled. Ocon’s is still on the rise. Wehrlein won’t get Mercedes, it will be Ocon. Perez won’t get Ferrari now. This is as good as it gets for him.


I can’t wait for the race when Perez is behind Ocon and wants him to move over. If I was Ocon my one word reply to the request would be “Canada”.


@ Mr Banana… It seems silly when i type your sig..I’d never call anyone that unless it was a joke! However, i shall counter your ‘OneWord’ and substitute Hamilton’s oft quoted classy response to Ron Dennis, ‘go swivel’.


Seems every race now there’s an ensuing debate about team orders.


It was a great motor race between the force India team mates. I am glad Perez didn’t move over like a lemon. Hopefully they will continue to let them race.


Funny how team bosses seem to forget to mention that a driver (like Ocon) that is driving closely behind two other drivers, never will show significantly faster laptimes. Simply because of the fact that that have to drive the pace of the one in front of them. The way Ocon was driving I think he had a good chance to overtake Ricciardo, and drive away from him.


@ Helge…I don’t think that Ocon would’ve been able to pass Ricciardo but it would’ve been fun watching him try. Daniel is a tough racer and he knows when and how to defend ,with vigor, and he very rarely makes mistakes.


It wasn’t just the lap times but the fact that his tyres were 13 laps younger. Perez was just wrong here. But FI is right, if he did move over we would be all saying “ah! Perez is a number 2 driver”
What the whole episode does prove is that moving over to let your team mate attack has NOTHING to do with who is No.1 and No.2 in the team


it was a shame, I’m not going to repeat again my post… so I’m just going to say that F1 its a fair sport, because at the end the best driver will get the best of all this mess.

Cedric Baumgartner

If Perez ever had a chance to join Vettel at Ferrari next year he just blew it massively! He’s attitude on and off the track clearly goes against what Ferrari would expect of any of their drivers.


it’s just bad management at the end of the day, which is surprising for force India cause they are so well managed

it’s also lack of awareness from perez, he should have been aware that ocon would have had a better chance at ric

side note, I am starting to like the lad ocon, he has ambition and the talent to match

I’m not sure if it’s a blessing or a curse for these young drivers that verstappen is a participant every Sunday, on one hand the teams might be willing to take the risk of a young driver, on the other their progress will likely be compared to verstappen’s when he was a rookie (conscious or otherwise)


Perez exposed his major weaknesses at the weekend. He macho ego and his inability to overtake. He sat behind Ricciardo for lap after lap and didn’t make one real attempt to overtake him.
Waiting for a mistake was never going to work, unless he pushed the RB into making an error and Perez never put Ricciardo under any kind of pressure.

As we know Perez does at great job of making his tyres last, which has given him some good results in the past, but, as Jenson Button knows, he’s rubbish at ‘racing’. Perhaps there’s a good reason for that – too many years of tyres that stopped drivers from pushing hard for fear of dropping off the cliff. Tyres that have turned F1 into an endurance event, where DRS has removed the skills that we used to see in the past.


James, if Force India had the kahunas to swap Ocon and Perez do you think Ocon giving Perez DRS would have made it more difficult for Vettel to pass?


No difference, now Ocon had DRS and could not hold Vet at bay.


Erikje, my point was that as Ocon was faster and Perez had lost Ricciardos DRS swapping them could have made Vettels task a bit harder and allowed Ocon a chance to press Ricciardo.
It’s what I would have done.
Checko showed his true colours, if I were Ferrari I’d look elsewhere. He is flawed, his redeeming feature is getting tyres to last a very long time. No longer essential….


Once Perez dropped out of the DRS zone of Ricciardo Ocon mounted several challanges to Perez, we never really saw Perez mount a challange on Ricciardo.

We’ll never really know if Ocon could have overtaken Ricciardo but perhaps he might have been able to put more pressure on Ricciardo and perhaps force a mistake. But even if hadn’t perhaps Ocon might have been able to hang on to 4th position by being slightly further up the road so instead of 5th and 6th, Force India might have gotten 4th and 6th.


Hi Al,

Tend to agree with you and others above mate!

Not really a big fan of team orders either but from time to time certain races or stages present a scenario were if the team or driver suggest they are quicker than their team mate and the result will collectively improve points for them both if they pass another rival then why not give the order.

Ocon made the call, a big ballsy call given his F1 tenure/rookie status, but it was worth a crack. If he’d cleared Ricci then perhaps he’d be way down the track when Vettel arrived….otherwise give the place back to Perez and continue to defend what is behind you. Thought he was quite cooperative with Vettel passing him too, could of been ugly if he held his line or had he over shot the corner.

Either way I like the look of him and his style…a little tentative at Monaco, but understandable though as he hit the wall in practice, he already looks to have a big future in F1.

Ferrari are said to be eyeing of Perez to replace Kimi, how about stitching up Ocon instead? Too soon?



If FI doesn’t know how to be firm with instructions and orders no wonder they were pushed over by their driver. Change of policy needs to be – be firm with your orders!


Interesting! When is a team order not a team order? perez had ample time and opportunity to try and put a pass on Ricciardo and he failed. As he said later on in the interviews, “ricciardo drove a perfect race and made no mistakes’. That was from his perspective but i fear that excuse was being used as a reason to deny ocon a chance. As much as saying, if i can’t pass him what chance has Ocon got? The point is this, Ocon was hot and what if Ocon got the business done…where does that leave Perez. The pit wall, should not have pussyfooted around. Tell him to let Ocon pass with no caveats. Just do it.They failed and if i was Ocon i’d also be a tad miffed. FI lost an opportunity to possibly get a podium. IMO Ocon would not have been able to pull it off but at least they could’ve tried and perez would’ve been vindicated in his assessment.


Ken, I’m with you when you say that Perez used his inability to pass Ricciardo as an “excuse” to not let Ocon through. Just seems too convenient to me. Perez said post race that he sat behind Dan for the best part of 40 laps so you’d think that if he couldn’t mount a successful challenge after 20 or so laps he would let his teammate through. But this is where the FI Pit Wall should have been more decisive. Would Ocon have been able to get by Dan? He thinks so but who knows. Ironically in Ocon’s rather clumsy attempt to pass Perez he opened the door for Vettel and he got both of them! Nevertheless I was pretty impressed with Ocon when interviewed post-ace. He didn’t want to get drawn into the issue just said that the matter would be discussed in-house and that his time would come. Nice attitude.

I guess you’ve heard that Renault have now stated that the long-awaited big PU upgrade won’t happen until 2018, just small incremental stuff race-by-race. There goes any chance of either Max or Dan competing for a win this year. Max has come out and said that he has real concerns for next year as well. Interesting.


@ Adrian….Ocon is impressing me despite his sometimes over exuberance which i feel is natural. He is fast and i think that Perez is feeling the heat. Ricciardo is in a similar situation with Verstappen. The difference here is that DR has lifted his game to match that of his team mate and Perez has not quite achieved that. Ocon is not going to go away and FI have a problem now as a precedent has been established. Ocon can, and will, if he gets the chance, argue the toss with some justification, despite the threat to introduce a stricter regime.

As for Renault and Red Bull…yes, i read that sometime ago and i was extremely disappointed. Earlier on in the year it was touted that there would be some large updates coming for Canada and AFAIK they were coming from Abiteboul. For him to turn around and say that it was all BS and Red Bull said that, not Renault seems odd and surely can be checked for accuracy!. I sometimes despair when looking at Red Bull being stuck in this seemingly endless cycle of being forced to continue with than satisfactory engines. We are being robbed of better racing as a result. As for MV’s concerns for ’18 i too share his opinion. They have been saying the same thing now for four years!!


Spot on Kenneth. Perez was directed to let Ocon through with the caveat that if he can’t take Ricciardo the team would swap them back.
Perez was selfish because he fears his team mate could have made the move. If he had Perez’s stock would have plummeted. In F1 things can change very quickly, Perez knows this, and his actions did him no favours. Or, more importantly, did his descision maximise the possible Team result.


@ Fiona…yes, you are correct. The point is that team orders, much and all as i detest them, can work sometimes. In Monaco Red Bull told Kvyat to let Ricciardo through and if he couldn’t get a pass on Hamilton he’d give the place back. He went on to sit on Hamilton’s exhaust but, being Monaco, he failed to pass him so he gave the position back. The deal was upheld and Ricciardo did his best. Satisfactory all round. They tried.


Or as in the past just bar them completely. The conspiracy theorists loved those years didn’t they.


My favorite line is what Fernley said, “from a fan’s point of view, you can’t have it both ways’. I’m in favor of the team order because it’s a team sport, hundreds (sometimes thousands) of people work tirelessly to give the two drivers the best opportunity to get the best results possible and it’s within rules. Perez obviously wasn’t asked directly to move over, but it was obvious of what the engineer implied. Politically correct doesn’t mean incorrect. So he should’ve moved over.


Telling drivers to hold station is a form of team orders and has the same result – controlling the results…let them race or let the young guy have a go at Ric. and then let Pez past if not able to overtake.


Discuss a team order until it’s no longer necessary so you don’t have to disobey it. Nice tactic )

Seán Craddock

The analysis also goes on to explain that Force India missed a guaranteed podium for either driver

Come on, nothing’s guaranteed in F1


It is if you don’t even have a go!!

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