Things just went from weird to weirder for the Sahara Force India F1 Team.
After Force India teammates Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez made contact in both Beligium and Baku, they received surprising orders during Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix.
When Perez requested permission to attack Ocon, he was ordered to hold his position and not attempt to pass his teammate.
"The team always comes first," said Force India CEO Otmar Szafnaue, according to a report by ESPN. "If they can prove to us after this year that they can sensibly race together, then I am sure we will consider that."
By obeying team orders and subsequently not wrecking each other, Force India earned a double points finish in Sunday's race. This strong showing by both drivers gave Force India an 81 point lead over Williams Mercedes for fourth place in the Formula 1 constructors' championship standings. Szafnaue will only consider allowing his drivers to race each other again once fourth place has been secured, according to a report by Motorsport.com.
"Usually, letting them race and go as fast as they can maximises the team potential," said Szafnaue. "But when they start crashing into each other a lot then it doesn't maximise the team potential, so we have to do something different in order to maximise the team potential."
The next chance for Ocon and Perez to prove themselves to Szafnaue will be on October 22nd when the Formula One drivers visit the Circuit of Americas for this year's United States Grand Prix.