Though the Monaco Grand Prix was largely uneventful, one of the glaring things which stood out was the pass made by Lewis Hamilton on Esteban Ocon. The Mercedes driver had come out of the pits and Ocon offered no resistance as he went past.
This had led to some teams complaining to the FIA that since the Force India cars used Mercedes engines, they had allowed the works team past without putting up a fight.
Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff had also apparently told Belgian newspaper La Derniere Heure “Yes, because that’s the way it is”, when asked about the incident.
Rival teams contacted the FIA post these comments. They took note of it and initiated an internal investigation into the incident. And they have said that they found no evidence of any such collusion between Mercedes and Force India.
Force India COO, Otmar Szafnauer explained the whole situation. “The reason for that, I don’t care what Toto says, was we were running our own race, not against Lewis at the time. And we didn’t want to lose any time whatsoever.”
“And it was Alonso who pitted just before and tried to undercut us and what we didn’t want to do was lose any time at all with Lewis such that Alonso would have a chance to get us, which is why we told Esteban [Ocon] not to lose any time to Lewis”, said Sazfnauer.
Another Force India crew member, tech boss Andy Green was also vocal about the set team strategy they follow across races. He said, “We do it all the time. When a fast car is coming through, we recognize that we’re not racing with them and we don’t.”
“We lose the minimum amount of time. Sometimes you can lose two seconds a lap when you’re trying to defend”, added Green.