Esteban Ocon said Formula One was lucky to avoid a disaster at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix when he narrowly avoided driving into photographers in the pit-lane on the final lap.
The FIA’s race stewards opened an immediate investigation into the moment which saw photographers gathered at the entrance to the pits Ocon arrived at speed to make a pit-stop.
Photographers were gathering at the end of the pit lane to capture race winner Sergio Perez and the other podium finishers parking up in parc ferme.
The TV broadcast showed Ocon getting incredibly close to driving into one or more of the people in the group.
“This is crazy,” Ocon said after the race. “It could have been a big, big one today. And it’s definitely something that needs to be discuss. It’s something that we don’t want to see.”
Ocon’s strategy saw him pit right at the end of the race. F1’s rules mandate every driver must use two different tyre compound per race, meaning everyone must stop at least once during a grand prix.
He added: “I don’t understand why we’re starting to prep the podium and prep the ceremony while we’re still racing. There’s one lap to go, there’s still people that didn’t pit. I’m arriving at 300 kph, I’m braking very late, I see the people around.”
When asked how close he felt he was to driving into someone, he replied: “Quite close. I had to lift off, I had to back off. Yeah. I would not have liked to be the one in the middle there, at the speed we are arriving there, especially so close to the line. If I missed the braking point, it’s a big disaster. So yeah, crazy moment.”
Ocon said immediate action needed to be taken by the FIA.
“We can’t wait for anything, it’s clear. You need to wait until all the cars are past the checkered flag, and ensure there is no racing in the pit lane any more until you start prepping the podium. It’s not a mystery, it’s very simple.
“We don’t want to see these things happening. I’m sure the FIA has seen it and they will take action. If they don’t take action, I will go and speak to them.”
The FIA representative responsible for parc ferme regulations, which dictate things such as when the pit-lane is open or closed, has been summoned to see the stewards to explain what happened.
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