Wolff ‘bothered’ by Force India’s driver clashes

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Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

We’ve had a lot of fun at Mercedes boss Toto Wolff’s expense over the years regarding his penchant for speaking out about any topic asked of him regardless of his involvement or direct association with the topic. Want an opinion on Red Bull’s HR department? Toto has an opinion. Need a quote about Ferrari’s management style? Toto has you covered. Wonder if McLaren will do better without Honda? Toto knows.

It’s no different with this most recent article at Autosport regarding Force India’s two drivers, Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez. There’s no doubt that the intra-team competition between Perez and Ocon heated up over the last two seasons and that clash has seen both drivers guilty of taking the other out of a race. It’s a tight battle and on, effectively, equal footing and it led Force India to make an ultimatum last year regarding more driver clashes.

For Toto, he’s got an opinion about Force India’s driver battle and it is bothering him.

“What bothers us are these intra-team rivalries that end with two damaged cars,” he told Autosport.

“This applies not only to Esteban, but also to ‘Checo’ [Perez]. As a team boss, I’m so annoyed by that.”

To be fair, Toto does have a dog in the hunt here. Ocon is part of the Mercedes driver stable and presumably on loan to Fore India so I shouldn’t be too harsh on Toto for having an opinion about one of his possible future drivers.

You can see him position the argument, about being bothered, in Ocon’s favor if you care to parse the words and I would too if Ocon was my guy and Sergio was not part of my future prospects.

“Esteban performed very well against a very strong Sergio Perez,” said Wolff.

“[In 2018] he has to take the next step and improve this performance.

“He is incredibly consistent, makes few mistakes and has great speed.

“[This year] he will have to develop further in this respect and outperform Perez.”

Point here is that Ocon needs to up his game and run clear of Perez. Be much quicker than Sergio and you won’t have to deal with a competitive teammate or jostling for position with them.

Toto didn’t mention that he also had that same situation resulting in similar outcomes at his team with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg and neither were running clear of the other. They were very closely matched, just as Ocon and Perez are. It caused a toxic situation within the team and perhaps that’s what Toto knows can happen at Force India if Ocon doesn’t change his game.

What Toto has said in the past, when dealing with his own intra-team conflict, is that it’s good pressure to have and it keeps pressure on the driver to perform. Now that Nico is gone and Valtteri Bottas doesn’t seem to be a match for Lewis, Toto has changed his outlook and seems to enjoy the peace and tranquility that competitive, but not equally competitive, drivers bring.

I have a lot of time for Perez and that respect was gained when I saw him in his first season at Monaco. It was an inspired drive to be sure. I will say, however, that I have been immensely impressed with Ocon. This young man is going toe-to-toe with Perez and giving him all he wants.

That’s impressive and if Ocon can hone his skills, avoid the intra-team garbage, he may just find that he is now better poised for a move to Mercedes if Toto see he can run at the top and do so without wrecking his teammate.

Hat Tip: Autosport

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11 Comments on "Wolff ‘bothered’ by Force India’s driver clashes"

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I see in the Autosport article that Ocon had been to talk to ‘the Oracle Toto’ about how to deal with the strife with Perez. So, I guess in the paddock, many flock to the feet of the wise one.
I wonder if the advice was “beat Perez, then quit the sport to do something worthwhile, because it will p*ss him off forever”?

ShocksAndAwe
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ShocksAndAwe

Wolff has been a bit of a mentor to Ocon for years now.

Member

A mentor to the whole F1 paddock, community and anyone else seeking an opinion, on any topic, anywhere, anytime………

sunny stivala
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sunny stivala

My take, Maybe the totonator is worried because of the possibility of his past team mates situation in the near future repeating itself. The totonator have a golden opportunity (maybe at a much cheaper cost) to follow in Marchionne’s footsteps as regards Alfa Romeo deal. branding force India while Swopping Ocon with Bottas. but Ocon will cause him his past problems all over again.

Member

If this is Wolff giving Ocon a warning to learn how to play nicely, or forget getting a seat at Mercedes, Ocon would be crazy to ignore that.
However, Perez doesn’t seem to have as many options open to him, so he may still be prepared to ‘beat’ Ocon by any means.

sunny stivala
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sunny stivala
Agree about the options of both, one have the power of what he brings with him while the other not only what he brings with him via Mercedes both also with their backing, and to that must be added the biased support from the usual British press. As I said, Toto is not worried because of Perez but because of Ocon having showed how he is prepared to operate against his team mate, and I in no way am saying that Ocon is/was right or wrong, but that he showed that he is willing/able to operate like that, and that… Read more »
Member
It will be a be a real challenge for the young French man, improve to the point he can dominate a very fiesty Perez, while keeping on good terms with him, and the rest of the team. The chances are nothing in his career, where he’s fought his through karting all the way to F1 has prepared him for that, In the meantime Bottas (who can do the getting on with your team mate thing very well), will be working his butt off to get faster and more consistent. Its going to be fun to watch, in amongst the chaos… Read more »
peterriva
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competitive teammates remind me of the adage: careful what you ask for.

And, Gee, now everyone thinks Bottas ain’t that good? Will F1B fans remember how glowing the praise of Bottas was two years ago, the second coming, etc.?

Member

Good point Peter. He hasn’t been as competitive with Hamilton as the pre-Merc signing hype would have suggested, but he’s far from a liability.
Next season will probably be a better gauge of his capabilities.

sunny stivala
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sunny stivala
While the time lasts till the action starts, The other day on another site someone from down there was telling me “I will drive down the newly renamed Brandon Hartley drive, the main road leading into Manfield, located in Feilding, New Zealand Grand Prix, one of only 2 races, the other being Macau, to have Grand Prix status outside of F1”. He also posted a picture of Brandon’s new for 2018 helmet which I tried to post for you to see on here but couldn’t manage. Also, have started to visit very good and well informed interesting Japanese motor racing… Read more »
ShocksAndAwe
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ShocksAndAwe

That was two years ago. My own opinion of Bottas has slowly but steadily declined over the years. He’s just not on the same level as the top contenders like ALO and HAM.