Esteban Ocon, Force India, Albert Park, 2017

Ocon dodged reprimand for missing national anthem

2017 Chinese Grand Prix

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Esteban Ocon was fortunate to avoid collecting a reprimand in China after failing to show up on time for the national anthem ceremony.

Ocon’s team mate Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo were given reprimands after they showed up late for the pre-race performance of the local anthem, which all drivers are required to attend by the rules.

National anthem ceremony, Shanghai International Circuit, 2017
Ocon also turned up late for the anthem performance
However video footage of the race shows Ocon arrived in his place after both drivers, around seven seconds before the anthem concluded.

Perez and Ricciardo were penalised because their late arrival was reported to the stewards, an FIA representative confirmed to F1 Fanatic. Ocon’s apparent late arrival has not been.

Drivers are required to attend the performance of the host country’s national anthem at the front of the grid prior to the start of the race under article 19.4 (ii) of the Sporting Regulations which states: “14 minutes before the scheduled start of the formation lap all drivers must be present at the front of the grid for the playing of the national anthem.”

The rule was introduced for the 2017 season. Ricciardo and Perez are the first drivers to fall foul of it.

Any driver who collects three reprimands during a season receives an automatic ten-place grid penalty. At least two of the reprimands must be for driving-related infringements. Perez has now collected two reprimands in as many races.

Other offences for which drivers have been given reprimands in recent seasons include impeding a rival, causing a collision, dangerous driving, failing to stop at the weigh bridge, driving unnecessarily slowly and driving with a car in an unsafe condition.

Ocon’s late arrival

National anthem ceremony screengrab, Shanghai International Circuit, 2017
Shortly after the anthem began, Perez arrived but Ricciardo (six spaces along) and Ocon (two spaces from the end) weren’t in position
National anthem ceremony screengrab, Shanghai International Circuit, 2017
By the end of the anthem all three missing drivers had shown up

2017 Chinese Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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Posted on Categories 2017 Chinese Grand Prix, 2017 F1 season, Esteban OconTags , ,

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  • 29 comments on “Ocon dodged reprimand for missing national anthem”

    1. Richard (@richardjonas97)
      11th April 2017, 12:05

      Let them focus on the race!

      1. @richardjonas97 I agree.

        And I really don’t like them giving sporting penalties – however slight – for protocol errors. If they have to penalise this, it should be a mild fine or community service or something.

        But even better would be to just drop this rule entirely.

        1. @keithcollantine I will let you suggest that to President Putin when you are in Russia (since it was probably introduced to placate him)! Good luck with that.

          1. Well, Putin’s midget friend is gone, let’s hope the idiotic rule will follow him.

        2. The FIA found that non-sporting errors didn’t deter the drivers from skipping press conferences (the thing that began protocol penalties as a consistently-penalised thing, which is why they went to sporting penalties.

          I agree with you that having a compulsory stand-in-line approach to the anthem is ridiculous, especially so late into the weekend. It’s like having a compulsory anthem just before the second half of a football or rugby match – the players should focus on something else, namely their sport, and at most, be required to be still and silent/very quiet during the anthem.

        3. a mild fine or community service

          Maybe something related to the local culture? @keithcollantine
          e.g. listening to a piece of music from that country whilst standing still in plain view of local fans :p

        4. Well looking at the persons that presented the trophy s, china does not really seems to value the F1.
          Third assistant mayor for first price.. etc..

    2. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
      11th April 2017, 12:09

      Given that the sombre line of drivers who would really rather be focusing on the imminent Grand Prix is quirk derivative of an explicit request from Russian race promoters, I think we can drop this rather contrived tradition now. There are better times for the drivers to observe the national pride of whatever country they happen to be in. F1 should never do anything simply because Russian nationalism demands it.

      1. @william-brierty Why do you think this was a request from Russian promoters? Please note, I don’t agree with this silly rule either, but why do you think it’s a Russian request?

        1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
          11th April 2017, 12:39

          @nickwyatt – Because from the 2014 Russian Grand Prix onwards the drivers were required to stand in silence! Even a moment of solidarity for injured Bianchi was not allowed to infringe on the anthem. Indeed Pit Pass claims it was Putin himself who put the request to Ecclestone.

          1. So now that Ecclestone is gone, will this ritual disappear as well? – @william-brierty, @nase

            1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
              11th April 2017, 13:40

              @nickwyatt – I doubt it – rolling back on national reverence tends not to be popular. Political U-turns are always cumbersome. Western democratic norms gave the proletariat the vote – we can’t take it away from them now they’ve elected a punchbag with a face to the highest office in the world.

              FOM would need a very good technical and procedural reason why the drivers cannot line-up to revert back on what is a sensitive symbolic moment.

            2. @nickwyatt

              So now that Ecclestone is gone, will this ritual disappear as well?

              Maybe they’ll notice that a lot of people think that these reprimands are laughable. I don’t think that many people would accuse them of performing a U-turn on a decision that was never theirs.
              Or maybe they’ll keep the ‘tradition’ to please other thinly-veiled autocrats with a nationalist fetish (wink, wink).

        2. @nickwyatt
          Having the drivers line up to pay respect to the national anthem was an innovation of the 2014 Russian GP. It was perceived by many as an example for the blatant political exploitation of that event, as well as the FIA’s subservient role. Shortly after, this procedure was declared as standard procedure from then on, a decision that sounded suspiciously like a retroactive attempt to mask the original reasons behind it.
          So, in a way, this procedure is the result of a Russian request, but it has been altered in a way that probably doesn’t fit the original idea anymore. The nationalist narrative behind the procedure at the first Russian GP relied heavily on the contrast to other GPs: When F1 comes to Russia, the drivers won’t just endure the national anthem like they do everywhere else, they’ll have to go out of their way to actively pay respect to it.
          Now that this procedure is applied everywhere, it has lost its original meaning, and is just a pain in everyone’s backside. Which shows what a silly, silly idea it was from the very beginning.

    3. 1. Shows how stupid this is.
      2. How easy is a simple head count?
      Primary school easy!

      1. They did a head count. If someone isn’t there by the time the first note of the anthem is due to play, it’s an automatic penalty unless (as in this case) the reason was unavoidable by the driver. Had Esteban not granted the interview, the penalty would itself have been a reprimand, so he was stuck between a rock and a hard place. The other drivers were not, hence the difference in how they were treated.

    4. Martin Brundle is now going to be ignored by drivers! He sometimes prevents them from hurrying to their respective places.

      1. That’s exactly what I thought after reading about the reprimands. Drivers will have to be much more conscious about time not miss the anthem by a few seconds. Damn.

      2. Ironically he might not – refusing an interview can net a reprimand, so there is now precedent: if you’d rather be interviewed than listen to an entire national anthem, simply get an interviewer to talk to you and you can avoid (usually part of) the anthem ;)

    5. Ok so the rule is ” Any driver who collects three reprimands during a season receives an automatic ten-place grid penalty. At least two of the reprimands must be for driving-related infringements.”

      Does that mean Perez and Ricciardo don’t have to bother with the anthem anymore? They can miss it every time picking up a load of reprimands that are non-driving related…

      1. Pretty sure that FIA can give other punishments for missing the anthem.

      2. @petebaldwin
        If any of the drivers proves he has a spine by staying away from this farcical ceremony, piling up nearly 20 worthless reprimands over the course of a season, I’ll dedicate a shrine to them.

        Sadly, becoming an F1 driver comes at the cost of having to sell your spine and soul (if you had any to begin with).

        1. +1
          I would be tempted to get an “anthem double” to stand in my place while I use the time for a trip to the toilet. I bet they wouldn’t notice. Maybe even one of those life size cardboard cut outs, and if they noticed I looked a bit flat, I tell them that their unfair weight regulations made me have to starve myself.

      3. They can get other penalties if they are seen to be circumventing the rules system. As I understand it, any penalty inscribed in the International Sporting Code is possible, though expect the penalties to be on the lighter end (such as 5/10/20 seconds added on to a race time). After all, it is just protocol.

    6. This is ridiculous. I was watching MotoGP last sunday and during the argentinean anthem (performed by a very well known artist) the riders were sitting on their bikes with everyone working around them, and it was just fine.

      1. I’m not a very nationalistic person, but this is a good illustration of why this rule was introduced. It doesn’t have to be so strict imho, but show some basic respect.

        1. I think it depends on where you’re from and what you’re used to. I can’t remember ever going to any sporting event in the US without the players standing for the national anthem. I know NASCAR does it. ALMS did, i’m assuming indy car does too. Not to mention NBA, NHL, NFL, MLB. It doesn’t bother any of those guys so why should it bother the “best drivers in the world”

    7. Where’s Jolyon Palmer? Can only see one set of yellow pants…?

    Comments are closed.