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Force India won't allow drivers to race until it secures fourth place

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Hamilton on the brink of fourth World Championship (1:05)

As Sebastian Vettel is forced to retire in Japan, Jonathan Legard discusses what it means for Lewis Hamilton's title charge. (1:05)

Force India will not let drivers Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon race each other again until it has secured fourth place in the Formula One constructors' championship.

The Silverstone-based team changed its philosophy on team orders following collisions between Perez and Ocon in Baku and Belgium, while tensions had risen earlier in the season when Perez refused to allow Ocon past to challenge Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo for a podium spot at the Canadian Grand Prix.

Force India enforced team orders during the Japanese Grand Prix, instructing its drivers to hold position when they were together on track. Perez -- who had requested to attack Ocon -- obeyed the order and the team subsequently sealed a double points finish.

The result strengthened Force India's grip on fourth place in the standings, moving the team 81 points clear of Williams in fifth. Force India CEO Otmar Szafnauer said it would only consider relaxing its approach to team orders when it can no longer be caught.

"After fourth is secure we will sit down with everybody and see if they can actually race again," Szafnauer explained. "The team always comes first. If they can prove to us after this year that they can sensibly race together, then I am sure we will consider that.

"[Nico] Hulkenberg and Checo sensibly raced together and they didn't crash into each other. If we had that scenario again then there is no reason to always have team orders."

Szafnauer hopes the way Perez and Ocon reacted to the instruction in Japan will enable the drivers to learn from past mistakes and ultimately result in clean racing between the pair in future.

"They are both smart guys and hopefully the lessons will be learned very quickly and I think they have. Our philosophy here is always to maximise the team potential, and we have to do what it takes.

"Usually, letting them race and go as fast as they can maximises the team potential," he added. "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.

"That is exactly what we have done. When we are happy to let them race, and we believe letting them race is better than holding them back, then that is when we will do it. But we are not there yet."