Force India Formula 1 teammates Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon remain free to race in 2018 after getting through the "conflict stage" of their partnership, according to team chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer.

Perez and Ocon became teammates at Force India in 2017 and experienced a number of on-track collisions as they fought wheel-to-wheel, costing the team a possible podium in Baku before the team took action to prevent further clashes after they touched twice during the Belgian Grand Prix.

After enforcing rules of engagement that prevented Perez and Ocon from racing each other for a handful of races, Force India gave the pair freedom to battle once again towards the end of the season as the team enjoyed its best-ever year in F1.

Szafnauer confirmed earlier this week that the drivers were once again free to race each other, and expressed his confidence that the drivers were over their spate of conflict.

"We’re going to start off the season as we left it last year. If you remember the last few races they were allowed to compete against each other," Szafnauer said.

"Like any relationship or partnership or even a team, they go through phases. One of the phases of team building is the conflict stage.

"When you get past the conflict stage, then you work better together and I think that’s the stage they’re at now.

"They had to understand each other and get through that phase, which they’ve got through, and now we look forward to working together as a team and even stronger than before that conflict stage."


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