Force In­dia boss wants a vic­tory

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

LON­DON: Force In­dia co-owner Vi­jay Mallya has re­minded driv­ers Ser­gio Perez and Este­ban Ocon that the team must take pri­or­ity af­ter a col­li­sion at the Azer­bai­jan Grand Prix wrecked hopes of a first win in For­mula One.

The In­dian busi­ness­man and politi­cian said they would be al­lowed to con­tinue rac­ing with­out the need to be reined in, how­ever.

“It’s still frus­trat­ing to pon­der what might have been had things played out dif­fer­ently,” Mallya said in a pre­view for Sun­day’s Aus­trian Grand Prix in Spiel­berg, the race fol­low­ing on from Baku.

“Since Baku we’ve had some con­ver­sa­tions in­ter­nally and re­minded our driv­ers that the team must al­ways come first. It’s never ac­cept­able for team mates to make con­tact with each other and it cer­tainly cost us points in Baku,” added Mallya.

“How­ever, the events of Azer­bai­jan won’t change our ap­proach. Our driv­ers can race freely and I’m sure they have learned some valu­able lessons ... I know they are ma­ture enough to work to­gether for the good of the team.”

Force In­dia, cur­rently fourth over­all in the con­struc­tors’ cham­pi­onship, have yet to win a race since Mallya ar­rived in 2008 and re­named a team that had gone through var­i­ous pre­vi­ous guises as Jor­dan, Mid­land and Spyker. The Sil­ver­stone based out­fit plans to drop ‘In­dia’ from its name next year, to be­come Force One, or Force One Grand Prix, with the move mo­ti­vated by a lack of In­dian com­pa­nies get­ting in­volved in the sport.

They have come close, with a pole po­si­tion and sec­ond place in Bel­gium in 2009 with Ital­ian Gian­carlo Fisichella, and four third places for Mex­i­can Perez since he joined in 2014.

In Azer­bai­jan, Perez and French rookie Ocon were fight­ing for a podium spot when they col­lided. Ocon suf­fered a punc­ture and sig­nif­i­cant car dam­age but continued to fin­ish sixth.

Perez ini­tially re­tired, be­fore the race was stopped and then re-started due to de­bris on the track caused by the Force In­dia col­li­sion.

Of the cars ahead of them at the time, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamil­ton lost the lead af­ter pit­ting to fix a loose head­rest while Fer­rari’s Se­bas­tian Vet­tel was handed a 10 sec­ond stop and go penalty and fin­ished fourth.

“Vet­tel got his penalty due to that restart, so we would have beaten him. And (winner Daniel) Ric­cia­rdo we would have beaten,” said chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Ot­mar Szaf­nauer af­ter the race.

“But with­out us caus­ing the red flag, Hamil­ton’s head­rest wouldn’t have come up, so he would have won it. So, would have, could have, should have ... we still would have been sec­ond or third.” – Reuters

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