Ocon and Perez to stay at Force India for the ‘short-term’

Force India’s Otmar Szafnauer and Esteban Ocon both claim the team’s driver line-up will stay the same for the rest of the 2018 season, but that hasn’t fully put-to-bed constant rumours from media and pundits alike.

During the summer break, a consortium of investors led by the father of Williams driver Lance Stroll rescued Force India from administration and changed the team’s name to Racing Point Force India ahead of this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.

When asked whether his seat was secure for the rest of the season by Sky Sports F1’s Craig Slater on Thursday, Esteban Ocon responded: “in my head, yes.”

The new Team Principal of Racing Point Force India, Otmar Szafnauer, said during Sky Sports F1 coverage of Belgium free practice that the team’s driver line-up will stay the same in the “short-term.”

Otmar Szafnauer (pictured) is the new official Team Principal of Racing Point Force India.

These claims contradict suggestions from pundits, such as Sky Sports F1’s Johnny Herbert, that Lance Stroll will transfer to the team for Monza.

Sources in the paddock, such as German paper Auto Bild, support the theory that new investors want Stroll to replace Esteban Ocon and not Sergio Perez.

Ocon’s contract is controlled by Mercedes-AMG.

Stroll, who currently drives for Williams, has been repeatedly linked to Force India because of his father’s fresh investment in the team.

Speaking during Sky Sports F1’s FP1 coverage for the Belgian Grand Prix, Herbert said he would “probably expect” Stroll to be in the car by Monza, in a week’s time.

Stroll has suffered a horrid season in 2018 with just four points to show for after twelve rounds.

Esteban Ocon on-track during practice for the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix.

Williams is currently last in the Constructors Championship.

Stroll was asked on Thursday in Belgium about his contract for the rest of the season and he said: “nothing is in stone”, according to Mark Hughes of Motorsport Magazine. 

Williams reserve driver Robert Kubica told Motorsport.com on Friday he feels ‘ready’ if he’s needed to jump in and race if Stroll leaves the team suddenly.

Racing Point Force India begins this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix with 0 Constructors Championship points because the team is officially a new entrant to F1.

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Steven Walton is an 18-year-old Journalism Student at the Ara Institute of Canterbury. He previously attended St Andrew's College in Christchurch, where he excelled at History and Classical Studies. Steven is the Editor-in-Chief at Green Flag F1 and spends most of his days living, breathing, and immersing in the Formula 1 world.

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