Perez wants 'clean weekend' from Force India in Germany

Sergio Perez is targeting a return of Force India to the top of the midfield in Hockenheim, but that ambition will require a clean weekend from himself and from the Silverstone-based outfit.

Force India has endured a difficult season so far compared to its two previous campaigns when the pink squad enjoyed an edge over its midfield rivals.

While Esteban Ocon finished seventh at Silverstone, the squad’s home race, Perez only secured a point for P10 thanks to a post-race time penalty handed by the stewards to Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly following the Frenchman’s over-aggressive move on the Force India driver.

“I was happy to rescue a point last weekend in Silverstone after a big recovery,” said Perez.

“The main focus for Germany is to have a clean weekend because if we maximise our performance we can be at the front of the midfield. There is a long way to go [11 races] and lots to play for.

“We are finding a bit more performance with each race and I still believe we can target fourth place in the championship.”

The 28-year-old admits he’s a fan of Hockenheim, a venue where he finished tenth in the last two German Grand Prix held at the 4.5km track, and where he spent a considerable amount of time during his formative years, when he raced in formula BMW.

“Hockenheim is an amazing track in a country with so much racing history,” he added.

“It’s a race we really missed not having in the calendar last year. I remember the early years of my career, living and racing in Germany, and it’s always very enjoyable when I go back to visit.

“I really love German food too!”

It’s not just the environment that appeals to Perez however as he also likes Hockenheim’s layout and its numerous overtaking areas.

“Hockenheim is a track that gives you good overtaking opportunities, especially on the approach to the hairpin,” says Perez.

“You arrive there so fast and it’s a very big braking zone so it’s always a good place to have a go. It’s probably one of the best circuits for creating exciting racing.”

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Mallya hails renewed momentum at Force India

After a problematic start to the 2018 season for Force India, team principal Vijay Mallya is happy to see the squad finally appear to pick up some momentum ahead of the halfway point in the current campaign.

Force India has taken fourth place in the constructors championship in the past two seasons. However this year it had slipped as low as seventh before gaining back a place at Silverstone last time out.

That was thanks to more points for both Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez, who once again both managed to finish in the top ten in the British Grand Prix.

“We have been finding performance as a team with strong results in the last few races,” commented Ocon.

“I was happy to rescue a point last weekend in Silverstone after a big recovery,” added Perez.

“It’s been satisfying to get both cars in the points for the last two races,” agreed Mallya. “It’s what we need to do for our fight in the constructors’ championship.

“Germany marks the half way point in the season and it feels as though we have some momentum now,” he added.

A cash crunch meant that the team hadn’t been able to get on with its development programme at the start of the year to the extent that it had wanted.

But the improvement in form in recent races suggests that Force India is finally over the worst of it.

“The updates we introduced in Silverstone helped and there’s more performance to be unlocked,” agreed Mallya.

“We’ve been a bit unlucky in the first half of the season, especially getting caught up in first lap incidents,” he pointed out. “I think we are due a change in fortune.

“Scoring points in all of the remaining races is a realistic target, but I expect the midfield fight to get even closer in the races to come.”

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Latifi ‘looking forward’ to German GP run

Nicholas Latifi will return to Formula 1 action this weekend, replacing Esteban Ocon for the opening practice session in Germany.

The Formula 2 driver will resume his duties with Force India, taking part in his second practice outing for this season following on from his Canadian GP showing.

“Montreal was fantastic, it’s a day I’ll never forget, so I’m really looking forward to getting back in the car for a second FP1 outing at Hockenheim,” Latifi said on his official website.

“Unlike Montreal, Hockenheim is a track I have driven before, and because I’m a bit more used to the car now, I’m feeling relaxed and more comfortable and confident.

“The goal is to do a good job for the team and get the data they need. I want to push along the programme for them as much as possible and build my own experience at the wheel of a Formula 1 car.”

The F1 action comes thick and fast for the Canadian with Force India announcing he will also test for the team on Day One of the post-Hungarian GP test.


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Perez ‘pleased’ with Gasly penalty

At a time when F1’s stewards are coming in for some stick, Sergio Perez has praised their decision to penalise Pierre Gasly at the British Grand Prix.

Gasly was in the thick of a late-race battle with Perez that saw the Toro Rosso driver collide with the Force India man and forced him off the track.

Gasly was slapped with a five-second time penalty that dropped him to 13th and elevated Perez to P10.

But while the Frenchman called the penalty “bullshit”, Perez says he is pleased his rival was punished for his antics.

“With two laps to go, Gasly pushed me off track,” he said.

“I gave him enough space but that was not enough: we still made contact and I lost the place.

“I believe it was an unfair move. I’m pleased that the FIA took action after the race to penalise Gasly, which gave me back the final point.”

But despite his top-ten showing, Perez says he was still unhappy with his Sunday at Silverstone.

“I cannot be totally happy about the race.

“The incident at the start compromised my race: I lost the rear end trying to avoid the incidents ahead, spun and suddenly I was at the back of the field.

“After that, our race was pretty strong. We had good pace and overtook a lot of cars. We made the most of the various safety cars and made it back into the points.”

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Mallya: They want to hang me on the holy cross

Embattled Indian tycoon and Force India owner Vijay Mallya said on Sunday he will comply fully with court enforcement officers seeking to seize his British assets, but there was not much for them to take as his family’s lavish residences were not in his name.

India wants to extradite the 62-year-old former liquor baron from Britain to face charges of fraud as a group of Indian banks seek to recover more than $1 billion (752.45 million pounds) of loans granted to his defunct Kingfisher Airlines.

A verdict is expected by early September, with July 31 the final date for closing oral submissions and appeals likely whatever the outcome.

Speaking to Reuters at the British Grand Prix, where he is principal and co-owner of the Force India team, Mallya said he would hand over British assets held in his name. But a luxury country residence belonged to his children and a house in London belonged to his mother, making them untouchable.

“I have given the UK court on affidavit a statement of my UK assets. Which, pursuant to the freezing order, they are entitled to take and hand over to the banks,” he said. “There’s a few cars, a few items of jewellery and I said ‘OK, fine. You don’t have to bother to come to my house to seize them. I’ll physically hand them over. Tell me the time, date and place.’”

“There’s no question of being homeless because at the end of the day, they are entitled to take my assets in my name declared on oath to the court. They can’t go one step beyond,” added the man branded a ‘fugitive’ by his country.

Mallya said a super-yacht he used for entertaining at races in Monaco and Abu Dhabi, which was recently sold at auction in Malta after a dispute over unpaid crew wages, was not his problem either.

“I have not owned the Indian Empress boat for more than seven years now,” he said. It had belonged to “a Middle Eastern gentleman”, whose name he would not disclose, in a deal that gave Mallya use of it for one month a year, he said.

Mallya has been in Britain since he left India in March 2016, unable to travel after his passport was revoked, so the annual British Grand Prix is the only race he has been able to attend since then.

The Indian government’s Enforcement Directorate, which fights financial crimes, is seeking to declare him a “fugitive economic offender” and to confiscate 125 billion rupees worth of his assets.

Mallya has denied the charges, decried a “political witchhunt” and has said he is seeking to sell assets worth about 139 billion rupees ($2.04 billion) to repay creditors.

“I think the overriding consideration that everybody seems to be missing is that I have put $2 billion worth of assets in front of the Karnataka high court which is more than sufficient to repay the banks and indeed everybody else. So the question of attaching assets either in the UK or whatever should not arise.”

Mallya repeated recent complaints on Twitter that Indian criminal enforcement agencies had frozen assets in India so he could not sell them, while banks continued to tot up interest.

He said the enforcement directorate had also attached assets inherited from his father, including properties acquired in the 1920s, under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, “How can those be proceeds of crime? This is the injustice that is happening.”

The former billionaire, at one time dubbed the ‘King of Good Times’ and a former member of the upper house of the Indian parliament.

“I was always a resident of England and a non-resident of India. So where else do I come back to? So where’s the running away concept? It’s just become too political.”

“And now in an (Indian) election year, I guess what they want to do is bring me back and hang me on the holy cross and hope to get more votes,” lamented the tycoon.


Esteban Ocon feeling good with P7 after 'really big fight'

Force India’s Esteban Ocon was tired but happy after a massive mid-field battle and a decent haul of points wrestled in Silverstone’s blistering heat on Sunday.

From tenth on the grid, Ocon gained a few spots in the opening mélée, keeping himself out of trouble thereafter while making the most of a one stop soft-to-medium tyre strategy.

The Frenchman did his best to reel in Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg while keeping the McLaren of Fernando Alonso from snapping at his heels during the race’s thrills and spills and multiple Safety Car periods.

Ultimately, the pink panther held his own sandwiched between the two drivers.

“I’m really happy with the result today. Seventh place feels good after such a difficult race,” said Ocon.

“The safety car didn’t make things easy because the tyres were cold at the restarts and it was not easy to keep Fernando and Kevin [Magnussen] behind me in the last few laps.

“I feel very tired mentally because it was a really big fight until the end. It’s important that we scored more points to add to the good points we picked up in Austria last week.

“The car is getting better and we are racing well so I have to say ‘thank you’ to the team for all their hard work. We keep pushing and the results are coming.”


Visiting his team for the first time this season, Vijay Mallya was happy with the result achieved by Force India in its home race, but rued another first lap incident involving one of his cars.

“To score seven points in our home race feels good,” said Mallya.

“Esteban didn’t put a wheel out of place today and showed excellent racecraft to hold off the cars behind which had a tyre advantage.

“Sergio [Perez] dropped to last on lap one after spinning at the first corner, which proved costly.

“It’s the fifth time this year that one of our cars has suffered a first lap incident and it’s hurting us in the constructors’ championship.

“Despite the spin, Checo battled back, pushed hard, and overtook a lot of cars. To score the final point was a remarkable recovery drive.”

Perez lost the battle for tenth on the track to Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, but the Frenchman was demoted to 13th after the race when he was handed a five-second time penalty for a contact with the Mexican while attempting to overtake the Force India driver in the closing stages of the race.

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