FIA race director, Charlie Whiting, has dismissed the idea that the clash between Sergio Perez and Sergey Sirotkin was orchestrated by the Force India driver after being left frustrated behind his opponent for a long time.
“I haven’t spoken to him, nor have the stewards as far as I’m aware,” said Whiting. “But it’s hard to believe a driver would intend to hit a rival’s car.”
“He’d been trying hard to get past Sirotkin, and he looked a little bit frustrated, and I just think he misjudged how far in front he was in front of him.”
The Force India of Sergio Perez and the Williams of Siroktin fought for a number of laps for track position at yesterday’s Singapore Grand Prix, with the Mexican eventually touching the side of the Russian, earning him a drive-through penalty.
The clash reminded some of the Vettel-Hamilton clash at Baku in 2017 but Whiting felt that the situation was different then; it was a lot more safe because of a Safety car.
He also addressed the concerns that the Force India driver was echoing over the radio- of Sirotkin moving under braking. “He [Perez] complained about this happening in Turn 7 and Turn 14, and we didn’t see anything that gave us any trouble,” said Whiting.
“Then he complained again, and we looked again, and frankly he simply wasn’t close enough. Sergey was maybe just being circumspect going into Turn 14, but as they were approaching the corner, just moved slightly left.”
“It wasn’t as if Sergio was getting really close, he was a good distance back.”
Force India were already enduring a terrible day at office, with Sergio Perez blocking off teammate Ocon, which caused the Frenchman to go into the wall, ending his race prematurely.
It enraged the team honchos no end, with new CEO, Otmar Szaufnauer, suggesting that team orders might be enforced again, for the first time since Belgium last year. The fiesty duo collided a number of times in 2017, which had led to speculation that one of them might be gone this year but that did not happen.
However, with the Stroll take-over, Lance is expected to come in from Williams, which would most probably force Ocon out of the team, separating the dueling partners.