Mallya: SFI pair will continue to race freely
20 June 2017 – Force India Team Principal Vijay Mallya has insisted that Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon will continue to be allowed to race freely, following a tense situation in Canada.
Pérez and Ocon ran fourth and fifth, behind Daniel Ricciardo, with the French youngster requesting to be allowed a chance to attack the Red Bull racer, due to being equipped with fresher tyres.
Pérez held firm throughout the race, before both were overhauled during the closing laps by the recovering Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel.
Mallya commented post-race that "new guidelines will follow" and he has now expanded on Force India's stance.
"Montréal showed the strengths of our driver line-up," he said.
"Sergio and Esteban are very closely-matched and they are pushing each other hard on the track.
"They both want to beat each other and this healthy competition will help drive us forward. They will get the best out of each other.
"We will continue to allow them to race freely, but we will always balance this with the best interests of the team.
"You can't pre-plan these things and every situation will be different."
Mallya added that Force India's pace in Montréal proved that its pre-season target of fighting with the top three teams was "not too outlandish".
"At the start of the year, when we launched the VJM10, I said we wanted to carry on where we ended 2016 as the fourth-placed team," he said.
"I even dared to dream that we could look ahead of us towards the top three.
"I think our performance in Montréal showed that such ambitions were not too outlandish.
"To be fighting with Red Bulls and Ferraris feels pretty good. We are not consistently at their level, but on our day we can fight with the top teams.
"It's a credit to everybody at Force India that we have come away from the first seven races with 71 points – a fantastic achievement."