Eight years ago, Giancarlo Fisichella made the breakthrough performance for Force India at Spa-Francorchamps with pole position, and a second-place finish as the team grew from backmarkers to midfield competition.
In 2017, the event made memories for all the wrong reasons as drivers Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez collided for the second and third times in 2017 and had problems for a third race following Canada and Azerbaijan.
At the start of the contest, Ocon was lucky to escape without major bodywork or suspension damage after hitting the wall while going three-wide with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and Perez going into the fast Eau Rouge section.
On Lap 29 of 44, after the two collided again approaching the same area of the track, moments after Ocon questioned pit strategy, causing a safety car period for debris.
As the Frenchman took to the outside to prepare for a move, the two drifted into each other, with Ocon suffering left-sided front wing damage and Perez getting a right rear puncture.
Ocon recovered to ninth later on, while the Mexican’s race ended a couple of laps from the end, classifying 17th, both being serviced under the safety car.
Due to this, team principal and managing director Vijay Mallya will deny the two the opportunity to make high-pressure decisions in future.
“I have been very happy with our overall performance during the 2017 season with both drivers scoring points for the team and racing freely,” Mallya said. “As much as I support competitive racing, the repeated incidents between our cars are now becoming very concerning. Under these circumstances, I have no choice but to implement a policy of team orders in the interest of safety and to protect the team’s position in the constructors’ championship.”
Drama Spills Onto Social Media Post-Race
The clashing didn’t end on track as both used social media to give their sides of the story.
Ocon tweeted highly-emotive thoughts on the safety levels of the Mexican’s battling which could be read literally or as a joke.
Damage limitation today, we were having a good race until Perez tried to kill me 2 times! Anyway he didn't manage to do so ending up P9😉! pic.twitter.com/00kmub96B4
— Esteban Ocon (@OconEsteban) August 27, 2017
At the time of the crash, he was angry at his teammate’s actions.
“Guys, what the f*ck? Honestly? What the f*ck is he doing? Front wing broken now,” he told his engineers.
Perez later released a video update on his beliefs of the incident in retaliation, taking the quote as a real accusation.
— Sergio Pérez (@SChecoPerez) August 27, 2017
On Monday morning, Ocon gave an update to his fans.
Spa incident. pic.twitter.com/3wKf8aVfKL
— Esteban Ocon (@OconEsteban) August 28, 2017
Ultimately, the drama meant that neither was able to capitalize on Max Verstappen’s DNF, with Perez still seventh and Ocon remaining eighth in the drivers’ championship. Force India stays fourth in the constructors’, with Williams lowering their advantage over fifth to 58 points.
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