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Formula One Open Wheel

Force India Keeps Perez, Ocon For 2018

It has been a sometimes stressful 2017 with the drivers at Force India, but the team is keeping faith in their line-up for 2018.

Sergio Perez has signed a contract extension to continue alongside Esteban Ocon for a second season.

It will take Perez into a fifth campaign with the Silverstone-based team after four podiums, 12 top-fives and 306 points from the last 73 races together.

“Staying with Sahara Force India was always my priority,” the Mexican said. “It’s a team that has allowed me to show my talents as a driver and I feel very happy here. I’m proud of everything we have already achieved together and I think there is more to come. The team has done an amazing job this year to develop the car and establish our position as the fourth-best team in F1. In the end, it was an easy decision to continue our journey together.”

Ocon sticks alongside after completing his 14 events with them so far, collecting 13 results with points.

“Since joining us in 2014, he has matured to become one of the quickest and most consistent drivers on the grid,” team principal and managing director Vijay Mallya added. “Alongside Esteban, retaining Sergio gives us stability going into next season and one of the most exciting driver pairings in F1.”

Perez celebrated the news by placing fifth at the Singapore Grand Prix, moving level with sixth-place Max Verstappen in the drivers’ championship.

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Formula One Open Wheel

Chaos Continues for Force India at Belgium

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.

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.

On Monday morning, Ocon gave an update to his fans.

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.

EMAIL CAMERON AT @cpatersonf1@gmail.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @PatersonCameron

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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News Open Wheel

Force India Bring Major Change with VJM10 Car

The third of the Formula 1 cars featuring on the 2017 grid was unveiled following Sauber and Renault unleashing their cars.

Force India released the VJM10 chassis for their 10th season in the sport, the car tasked with improving on their best-ever finish of fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship in 2016.

Its livery has changed for the 2017 season, incorporating more gray into their design. Their last few cars have including black as a primary color alongside gray and orange. Many sponsors have also joined the team, including whiskey brand Johnnie Walker.

The team has continued the trend of F1 designs with unique differences in understanding the new technical regulations. It stands out from having a more square-looking shark fin engine cover and a dramatic front wing that has features from previous designs in F1, including a slight step and a phallic tip.

Andrew Green, the team’s technical director, described the task ahead in developing the car throughout the season ahead.

“It’s definitely a big overhaul, one that requires a change in mentality. It took a bit of time to adjust at first, but we are there now, and I am confident we know where to look and where the performance is coming from with this car,” he said.

“The development slope is incredibly steep and we are going to see significant updates to the cars at regular intervals, right from the start; it’s going to be big updates and I don’t think development will start to taper off any time soon.”

Team principal Vijay Mallya expressed his feelings clearly on his Twitter profile, attacking rivals Renault, saying that the team does “not believe in unveiling prototypes”.

Sergio Perez is set to drive the VJM10’s first lap in testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on February 27 before teammate Esteban Ocon and development driver Alfonso Celis Jr. take over the drive.

EMAIL CAMERON AT cpatersonf1@gmail.com

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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News Open Wheel

Force India Latest to Confirm Testing Schedule

With just days to go until 2017 Formula 1 cars hit the track for the first time, some teams have already decided when their drivers will pilot their machines.

Force India is the latest team to confirm their driver schedule for both pre-season tests at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona.

Young driver Alfonso Celis Jr. joins usual drivers Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez in taking part in the first test before the two drivers have more time with their new car in the second test.

Perez has the honor of driving the VJM10 chassis out of the garage for the first time on the first day of testing on February 27, with Ocon taking over for day two. Celis will then spend a full day in the car before the two race drivers share the final day on March 2.

When F1 returns on March 7, Ocon will spend the first and third days of the second test in the car, with Perez spending time on track on days two and four.

The team is the second to fully announce their testing plans after Haas made their plans public.

Kevin Magnussen will drive their VF-17 chassis on the first two days of the first test before handing over the car to RomainGrosjean. The Dane will start the second test, driving on days one and three, with Grosjean taking to the track on days two and four.

Testing will be teams’ only chance to allow their drivers to settle in their cockpits or find potentially limiting flaws before the 2017 season starts in Australia two weeks after the final day of testing.

EMAIL CAMERON AT cpatersonf1@gmail.com

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Formula One Open Wheel

PEREZ: “My Country and My People Come First”

Formula One driver Sergio Perez has fired one of his personal sponsors for making a nasty remark directed at Mexican people. The sponsor, Hawkers, apparently showed little respect for the people of Mexico.

Here’s the tweet that was so upsetting:

“Mexicans, put on these glasses so they can’t see your crying eyes tomorrow when building the wall”.

The President-Elect of the United States, Donald Trump, has vowed to build a wall and to make Mexico pay for it. Most regard this campaign promise as racist. Apparently, the Force India driver is one of them.

Hawkers was working on a 20,000 unit run of custom Perez sunglasses. Production had to stop on them because Sergio won’t allow his name to be associated with the offending manufacturers.

The company has since apologized and pulled down its Tweet. Too little too late it seems.

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.