July 5, 2022, 12:18

Esteban Ocon says Sergio Perez ‘tried to kill me’ during Belgian GP

Esteban Ocon says Sergio Perez ‘tried to kill me’ during Belgian GP

Esteban Ocon accused team-mate Sergio Perez of risking both their lives as the feuding Force India drivers twice collided in the Belgian GP.

Force India have threatened to impose team orders on pair after a rivalry which has been simmering for several months escalated in two collisions at Spa – the second of which cost the team a hatful of points and left both drivers blaming each other.

Almost two hours after the chequered flag had fallen, a still simmering Ocon tweeted:

“The first incident, I accept it even if I think he saw me in the mirror,” the Frenchman told Sky Sports F1 after finishing ninth. “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. 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.”

Perez, who suffered a puncture and eventually retired, said the contact on the first lap was “100 per cent my fault” after selecting the wrong start mode on his car. He also said he did not see Ocon as they battled three-abreast with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg.

However, he pointed the finger of blame squarely at his team-mate for the later collision when they were running in seventh and eighth.

“The second incident I think Esteban was really optimistic there because there was no room for two cars,” Perez said.

“He had the whole straight to do the manoeuvre so it’s a shame that we touched. We ruined our race.”

Will Force India impose team orders?
Despite enjoying their strongest-ever start to a season, Force India’s management have increasingly have to contend with their drivers’ strained relationship.

Perez and Ocon first collided at June’s Azerbaijan GP, costing the team a potential double podium finish, but the team’s management had continued to insist they were free to race provided there was not a repeat.

But the events of Spa look set to prove the final straw as, speaking to Sky F1 live from the pit wall within minutes of Sunday’s second accident, Force India’s Otmar Szafnauer suggested orders would now have to be imposed.

“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,” the team’s chief operating officer said.

What now for Perez and Ocon?
Ocon said he was prepared to have a frank discussion with Perez ahead of the next race at Monza, but implied the more experienced Mexican should know better.

“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, who has been linked with a move to Renault having yet to sign an extended deal at Force India, is also keen to resolve the problems.

“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.”

Don’t miss the Belgian GP live on Sky Sports F1 on Sunday – lights out for the race is at 1pm. Check out all the ways to watch F1 on Sky Sports for subscribers and non-subscribers including a NOW TV day pass for £6.99!

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