Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon have matured enough to be allowed to race each other again in Formula 1, according to Force India’s chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer.
Perez and Ocon were under team orders not to fight each other on track after they collided twice during the Belgian Grand Prix in August.
“The drivers have got a better understanding and have matured enough so that they know and we know how to behave,” Szafnauer told Autosport. “So next year it should be a lot better.”
Perez and Ocon rowed in Canada, collided in Azerbaijan – losing a potential podium – and then clashed again in Hungary. It wasn’t until after Spa that Force India took action.
Szafnauer said it was a tricky decision to make, but ultimately the team made the right decision as its strategy secured fourth in the constructors’ championship for the second successive year.
“It’s funny because you get criticised if you do and criticised if you don’t,” said Szafnauer.
“Some of the media were critical as they said ‘you should’ve got on top of it earlier’.
“We were letting them race and when we did get on top of it they were saying ‘oh they can’t race anymore’.
“Looking back did we strike the balance at the right place? Probably as we’ve got fourth [in the constructors’ championship].
“At the time I thought we could lose out because the drivers were often coming together and we were losing out on points.
“In Baku we lost something like 33 points and at that point it was so early in the season that I didn’t know or could predict we would be fourth.
“Now if you look back you could say we struck the balance at the right point as we let them race and then after Spa we said ‘let’s not’.”