LONDON (Reuters) - Force India driver Esteban Ocon has offered an olive branch of sorts to Formula One team mate Sergio Perez after publicly accusing the Mexican of twice trying to kill him in Belgium at the weekend.
The 20-year-old said on Twitter on Monday that he had been “very much upset” when he made his comments in the heat of the moment after the two collided during Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix.
“We will be moving forward, we are a team and I appreciate my team mate apologizing,” said the Frenchman, who is eighth and a place behind Perez in the driver standings.
“We want to work better together. I’m committed to the success of Sahara Force India, and I’m confident that as a team we will put this behind us to reach even greater levels of success together.”
The emollient tone contrasted with Ocon’s comments on Sunday, when he posted a clip of the incident and told his 64,000 followers that “Perez tried to kill me 2 times!”
Perez had replied in a video message on the same medium, accepting blame for the first incident between the two but not the second, which he said was due to Ocon being “too optimistic”.
“I am very disappointed to see his comments that I wanted to kill him,” said the Mexican in a remarkably deadpan response. “I am not that type of guy...”
The incident, with Ocon squeezed towards the wall at more than 200kph as he tried to pass Perez on the inside, cost Force India precious points with the Mexican suffering a puncture and eventually retiring. Ocon finished ninth.
Principal and co-owner Vijay Mallya has said the fourth-placed team would “implement a policy of team orders” to prevent more such incidents.
Sunday’s clashes were the latest in a build-up of bad blood, with the drivers warned in June about their conduct after they collided at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix with podium places up for grabs.
While Formula One team mates are rarely the best of buddies, and sometimes polar opposites, they usually strive to avoid clashing on the track.
Perez has had few ructions with previous team mates but Ocon is proving a different challenge.
The Mercedes-backed 20-year-old is not short on confidence or talent and, despite being a new kid on the block, is eager to make his mark.
Perez, now 27, yearns to join a top team again after a failed one-year stint at McLaren and knows his career is reaching a crossroads. He too is not about to make life easy for his team mate.
Editing by Ed Osmond