Formula One mid-fielders Force India have been hilarious to watch for all the wrong reasons, as drivers Esteban Ocon and Sergio Pérez simply have no love for each other. The teammates had been up in each others’ space since the very start of the race, ultimately resulting in them hitting each other on lap 30.
The Battle of the Pink Cars started off spectacularly at the start of today’s race at Spa-Francorchamps, with everyone left wondering how Ocon’s balls of steel even fit in his car. Perez squeezed Ocon in towards the wall at Eau Rouge, touching wheels.
Miraculously, this first-lap touch didn’t seem to damage either car, but Perez fixed that later on lap 31 with another too-close move. Pérez squeezed Ocon into the wall at the same corner, damaging Ocon’s wing and causing Pérez’s right rear tire to disintegrate.
Pérez was able to limp his wounded car in, but the cleanup afterwards brought out the safety car. Both battling teammates were able to get back out on track, although team COO Otmar Szafnauer told Sky Sports that he was none too happy about the situation. Szafnauer confirmed that they wouldn’t let the teammates race each other anymore, and insinuated that if the teammates couldn’t give each other racing room on track, they may have to reconsider their driver lineup.
Stewards noted the incident, but took no action. Pérez lost pace rapidly at the end of the race and retired on lap 43 by his team.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton ultimately won today’s race (and it’s Hamilton’s 200th F1 grand prix) after some breathtaking challenges from Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. Vettel still leads the championship but this cuts the difference to only seven points. Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo continued his streak of being their lone lucky teammate by finishing in third.
UPDATE [5:51 p.m.]: It’s pretty clear who Ocon blames for the crash:
Pérez spread the blame around to “both of us” for misjudging the turn as Pérez was protecting the line, per his remarks to NBC Sports.