Ocon: F1 avoided ‘a big disaster’ with pit lane incident
By Mat Coch
Sunday 30th April, 2023 - 11:43pm
Esteban Ocon recounted how he avoided “a big disaster” entering a pit lane filled with people late in the F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
The Frenchman took to the pits as he completed his penultimate lap in order to serve his mandatory pit stop.
However, as he did so, the lane was filled with photographers and other personnel in preparation for the post-race celebrations.
“I’m arriving at 300km/h, breaking very late, and I see the barriers, I see the people around. This is crazy,” Ocon said.
“Could have been a big, big one today. This is definitely something that needs to be discussed. It’s something we don’t want to see.”
Following a grand prix, cars enter parc ferne, usually near the podium. In Baku, that is located at the entry to the pit lane.
Barriers are typically erected in the latter moments of the race, with photographers allowed into the lane to capture the top three finishers as they pull up.
While teams often stop in the closing laps, especially as they chase the point for fastest lap, it is rare that a ‘racing’ stop is completed at the end of the penultimate lap.
As a result, the parc ferme preparations have become standard practice.
“I had to lift off. I had to back off,” Ocon said of his reaction to the incident.
“I would not have liked to be the one in the middle there, I have to say, at the speed that we are arriving there, especially so close to the line.
“If I missed the braking point, it’s a big disaster.”
The FIA has confirmed it is investigating the incident with stewards issuing a summons regarding “Personnel blocking the fast lane in the pit lane on the final lap of the 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix while the pit lane remained open.”
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