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Force India won't back down on Ocon Perez F1 team orders

Ocon Perez Force India F1 2017 Japan

Force India will not consider relaxing its approach to team orders until it has secured fourth place in the Formula 1 constructors' championship.

Following a number of collisions between its drivers this year, Force India changed its policy of allowing Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon to race each other, and in Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix it ordered them to hold position when they were together on track.

When asked by Autosport about what it will take for the drivers to be unleashed again, Force India COO Otmar Szafnauer said: "After fourth is secure we will sit down with everybody and see if they can actually race again."

Szafnauer said it is possible that the current use of team orders could come back into play at the start of 2018 too, if Perez and Ocon have not convinced the management about their ability to fight cleanly.

"The team always comes first," said Szafnauer. "If they can prove to us after this year that they can sensibly race together, then I am sure we will consider that.

"[Nico] Hulkenberg and Checo sensibly raced together and they didn't crash into each other.

"If we had that scenario again then there is no reason to always have team orders."

Otmar Szafnauer Force India F1 2017

Szafnauer suggested the way the drivers accepted the team orders in Japan suggests they have well understood the mistakes they have made in the past.

"They are both smart guys and hopefully the lessons will be learned very quickly and I think they have," he said.

"Our philosophy here is always to maximise the team potential, and we have to do what it takes.

"Usually, letting them race and go as fast as they can maximises the team potential.

"But when they start crashing into each other a lot then it doesn't maximise the team potential, so we have to do something different in order to maximise the team potential.

"That is exactly what we have done. When we are happy to let them race, and we believe letting them race is better than holding them back, then that is when we will do it. But we are not there yet."

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