Esteban Ocon wants FIA to act after he narrowly avoids pit-lane ‘disaster’
Esteban Ocon has demanded Formula One’s governing body takes action after he said a “big disaster” was narrowly avoided in Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Ocon, who drives for Alpine, came within inches of colliding with a cluster of individuals when he stopped for tyres on the final lap of the race.
On-board video footage from the French driver’s car showed dozens of people – who had gathered at the entrance to the pit-lane with the race still ongoing – scrambling to get out of his way.
The view from Esteban Ocon's on-board camera as he came into the pits late in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. pic.twitter.com/4LjGdz2T5L
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) April 30, 2023
“It could have been a big, big one today,” said Ocon. “I got close to them and I had to back off.
“I would not have liked to have been in there with the speed I was arriving. If I missed the braking point it could have been a big disaster. It was crazy.”
A representative from the FIA was summoned to see the race stewards on Sunday evening, with the sporting federation itself confirming it had launched an investigation into the near-miss.
Ocon continued: “I don’t understand why they are starting to prep the podium while we are still racing. There is one lap to go. I am arriving at 300kph (185mph) and I am braking very late.
“It is clear. We need to wait until all the cars have passed the chequered flag and ensure there is no racing in the pit lane. It is not a mystery. It is very simple.
“We don’t want to see this happening again. I am sure the FIA has seen it and they will take action. And if they don’t take action, I will go and speak to them.”
After summoning the FIA, the race stewards said it was “fortunate that there were no serious consequences”, and said the governing body must take “immediate steps” to “ensure this situation does not occur again”.
A statement from the stewards read: “We determined that the relevant representatives took steps to set up the parc ferme area and also permitted media and other personnel to gather in the start of the pit lane and the pit wall during the last lap of the race, while the pit lane was open and before the final pit stop of Ocon.
“We noted that it was not unusual for the representatives to allow such persons into the pit lane just before the end of the race, in the usual course of preparation for parc ferme and the podium ceremony.
“However, in this case, there was one driver that had to pit on the last lap and this created a very dangerous situation for those that were in the pit lane at the time.
“We considered that it was fortunate that there were no serious consequences on account of what happened today.
“We stressed that the requirements of ensuring a safe and orderly event are paramount. This was acknowledged by the FIA team.
“We walked through the relevant procedures and protocol with the FIA representatives in detail and required them to take immediate steps to reconsider these procedures and protocols with the relevant stakeholders to ensure that this situation does not occur again.
“The FIA representatives expressed their regret at what happened and assured us that they would do so in time for the next event.”