Esteban Ocon, Force India, Monaco, 2018

No special favours to help Hamilton and Mercedes, say Force India

2018 Monaco Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Force India denies giving Mercedes special treatment by allowing Lewis Hamilton past Esteban Ocon during the Monaco Grand Prix.

There were few overtaking moves during the race, and the ease with which Hamilton passed Ocon after his first pit stop prompted claims the Mercedes customer team had done the factory outfit a favour.

Kimi Raikkonen, who was trying to jump ahead of Hamilton through the pit stops at the time, was among those who thought Hamilton had been waved through.

“Obviously they pitted in the traffic but it was a Force India car and they got let by him,” said Raikkonen. “We stayed two laps out but it takes such a long time to clean the front that it didn’t really give us any opportunity [to pass].”

However Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley told RaceFans they weren’t in the same fight as the front runners and wouldn’t have held up any of them.

“We were looking at tyre strategies,” said Fernley, “There’s just no point [to hold Hamilton up] because we needed to get him home with a comfortable one-stop.”

“[Hamilton] could have been anybody,” he added, “it could have been Ricciardo or Vettel.”

Hamilton said the moment he passed Ocon was his race’s only highlight.

“It was the most exciting part of the race, I got to overtake someone!” he said. “I was excited for a second. But he didn’t put up a big fight or anything like that so it wasn’t too difficult.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2018 F1 season

Browse all 2018 F1 season articles

80 comments on “No special favours to help Hamilton and Mercedes, say Force India”

  1. It did look like Ocon made Lewis’ life way too easy

    1. No one was pushing. It was not a race but a tire management session for us. No body wanted to waste their tires trying to risk fighting on the narrow track with fat cars so no one even tried to go for 2 stop strat. So everyone just followed the Pope’s vehicle to the finish line in a classy and gentlemanly manner.

      1. Maybe they should have asked the bored people on the balconies to throw water on the track or something… jk but not really

      2. Interestingly, even though Hamilton was MUCH faster than Ocon, he wasn’t any faster than the leaders. Ocon’s hypers went off much more quickly than those of the leaders.

    2. Load of fuss about nothing if you ask me.

      Everyone does it, both official & unofficial. For example, Schumacher & Vettel have both benefitted from inter-team help….Jerez 1997, Brazil 2012. And it can work in other ways too. For instance, Grosjean seem to take issue particularly with Hamilton in 2017. Grosjean called for Hamilton to be stripped of his pole in GB 2017. He also tried to get Hamilton reprimanded in the drivers’ briefing, over Hamilton removing his seatbelt (Japan 2017). Here we have a Haas driver (Ferrari engine), trying to almost destabilise/distract Vettel’s main competitor (Hamilton).

      We may never the know the truth of what happend in Monaco 2018 , just as we may never know the truth surrounding the suspicions that Haas helped Ferrari in Australia 2018.

      Move in people. Mountains out of molehills…

      1. * Edit, spelling mistake

        Move on people. Mountains out of molehills…

  2. I’d like to believe him. But it did rob us of a potential interesting overtake.

    1. They let both Mercedes through. If they didn’t Hamilton might have lost the place to Kimi. It’s wrong but we’ve seen it happen before.

  3. I remember very well when Ocon was asked the same question last season in Canal+ French by Franck Montagny (if I’m not wrong), he said : “Je suis un pilote Mercedes, je ne peux pas les freiner”.

    1. Sush meerkat
      29th May 2018, 12:27

      Ocon gets a lot of advice from Toto Wolf so my tinfoil hat sense tingling tells me he’s sympathetic to the silver arrows.

    2. Hi,

      He said much more, before the race:
      “ Je n’ai pas le droit de trop ralentir les Mercedes mais le premier tour c’est libre donc on verra ce qu’il se passe ”
      I am not really allowed to slow down the Mercedes, but the first lap is free so we’ll see what happens.
      And after the race:
      “ Je suis un pilote Mercedes. Il faut que vous demandiez au patron. ”
      I am a Mercedes pilot. You need to ask the boss about this.
      Apparently he told this after Vergne had said that, in his Toro Rosso days, the orders were to basically get off track to let pass the Red Bulls… to which Ocon answered: “It is not that extreme.” Good to know…

  4. Very boring race made even more boring.

  5. It seems like a weird call for me, because of all the tracks in the world, this is the one where the leading driver has to make the fewest adjustments to their line and pace in order to keep position. Ocon could have just driven at his normal pace, on his normal line, and it seems unlikely that Hamilton would have been able to attack anywhere other than the Nouvelle chicane. And that’s just a case of holding the middle line in the road unless the car behind gets a good run. And for sure in that case, don’t defend heavily, don’t risk a crash. But to just move over and take your foot off the throttle, seems so strange to me. And rather contrary to the usual mentality of the Force India team which generally fights hard for every position.

  6. Come on that looks way to obvious, Ocon slowed down so much it looked like he was a lap down and getting out of the way

    1. Agreed, I was a bit miffed how he slowed down so excessively, he was completely out of the picture in 2 turns. Team orders between teams should not be allowed. That was Ocon leaving no doubt who he really takes orders from.

      1. Ocon didnot wanted to risk his potential Mercedes career.
        Looking at the time differences at the end, Ocon lost some potential points there.

        1. Looking at the time differences at the end, Ocon lost some potential points there.

          But looking at time differences at the end doesn’t really make sense. He came out about 1.4s behind Hulkenberg after pitting, which is the absolute maximum he could have lost in letting Hamilton through. So even if he didn’t let Hamilton pass chances were he would have been behind Hulkenberg anyway. And if he would have come out in front of Hulkenberg, there was no passing, so he would still not have passed Bottas for fifth.

    2. FreddyVictor
      29th May 2018, 16:46

      TBH, I was speeechless when I saw it – it’s not like FI is a MB Junior Team
      I could understand Ocon driving non-defensive lines & not resisting an overtake attempt, but really !!

  7. If Ocon had even half a racers brain then I can’t see why there would have been any need for an order to get out of Hamilton’s way, it was the right thing to do for his own race regardless of it helping Hamilton out.

    Technically they were racing for position, but given Ocon had a pit stop to make it wasn’t a position he could keep and he risked losing time to the cars he was in a fight with if he scrapped with Hamilton.

    I would expect him to have jumped out of the way of any car including Red Bull and Ferrari simply for the sake of their own race and championship fight.

    1. this is nonsense… stay ahead… its Monaco and a safety car could have been out at any moment…..this was a wave through by a Mercedes customer team and there is no sensible way to spin it into something else…
      the funny part is that people still believe that any team in Formula 1 is honest. tProffesional liars… all of them. lol

      1. Ok, so there’s a safety car and Ocon has been defending Hamilton. Ocon pulls in to take advantage of the safety car, and Hamilton who is right by behind him stays out because track position is king in Monaco, gets the position anyway and Ocon has still lost more time driving defensively than having let Hamilton past. Ocon pulled off the best result he was going to get that day even if there had beena safety car. He had nothing to gain fighting Hamilton.

    2. Philip. I agree with you and the key point in your comment is “if he had half a racers brain”, which it seems like he does. I’ve club-level road raced for years in the US and it doesn’t even need said that if you aren’t in a lead fight (in this case for pit stop reasons) you don’t fight a faster car tooth-and-nail, especially when you (Force India) are trying to hit your strategy.

      1. +1 warren2185 and @philipgb

        It wasn’t his fight and at that stage trying to defend from Hamilton on new tyres would have only damaged his race and in the long run cost him time. It’s sad to see a car just move over but I honestly don’t think it was anything to do with it being a Mercedes.

        1. I’m going to guess that the 3 of you are Mercedes fans and you got the result you wanted… this is a race between teams and should not be a manufactured result pre determined before the race with manufacturers and customer teams….. this is Monaco….. safety cars are a norm and it can go topsy turvy at any moment…..waving through a team that you favor is bush league. he would not have done the same for red bull and ferrari… in fact he would have went out of his way to hold them up in favor of Mercedes.
          @tom go do some reading.. Ocon admitted that it was from the pit wall and so did Toto….
          Force india lied as you would expect them to do to save face.

          1. Who we support makes no difference to the arguments made. It might suggest why I have the motive to make it, but it has no relevance on if the argument is right or wrong.

            Hamilton was under a second behind Ocon, how would even a safety car allow Ocon to keep that position once he makes his pitstop?

            Ocon finished 0.6 seconds ahead of Gasly and only 1.6 seconds ahead of Verstappen way down in 9th. Losing time fighting Hamilton for position would have been the dumbest thing a driver could do in the scenario.

    3. @philipgb i agree i didnt see the point of him fighting hamilton cause he still needed to make a pit stop. the midfield teams dont make life difficult for the front runners because that it not their direct competition.

      1. This is not a track where you going to loose time fighting for position….

  8. There’s no way that this is true. If Ricciardo with a blown MGU-K can hold Vettel on a Ferrari off for ~60 laps, you can easily hold your position with a bit of older set of tyres.

    1. @b4lr0g

      Then he puts for his mandatory stop, and Hamilton is past anyway. What was to gain?

      1. So you assume and let someone fighting for position past rather than race? Anything can happen in a race. What a pointless suggestion.

        1. Not “anything” can happen in a race. Lots of unpredictable things can happen, but I can’t imagine any scenario in which Ocon defending Hamilton see’s him ending up still in front after his pitstop.

          Drivers don’t just race anyone they can whenever they can. They weigh up if it’s worth it. What scenario do you envisage losing time fighting Hamilton improves Ocon’s result?

        1. I’d wager a driver loses less time giving a lift on the straight than having someone divebomb them on the inside of the chicane or driving defensively lap after lap

    2. @b4lr0g Did you see Verstappen being let past by Sirotkin?

  9. It was Brundle’s first reaction to say that was a wave-by, and I had no problem with it.

  10. Maaan, these guys have quite some nerve to lie everybody so blatantly. Everything about this circuit, about the 2018 race is proof against them. It was Monaco, the only circuit from the calendar by quite some margin where actually slower cars have a chance to punch over their weight, there were 2-3 overtakes all race long – all of them at the limit of regulations, that hard it was to overtake… yet HAM manages an overtake like it was a walk in the park… his only overtaking maneouver all race long! It’s really sad that stuff like this happens, especially that they don’t even try to hide it somehow anymore, the competition being affected in a negative way. I wish there was some competitive external engine supplier for the poor teams, like Ford in the 60s, and spare them the ”tyranny” of the manufacturers. Honda actually could have tried something, for ex to get as many teams as possible to use their engine by selling it for a modest sum. I think it would have been best on the long term.

    1. But they aren’t telling any lies @mg1982

      They’ve said they got out of the way (which they did) and they’d have done the same for any of the top teams ( which it made sense for them to do). Sure, he might be able to keep Hamilton behind for a few laps but taking defensive lines all the time was just going to slow Ocon down and damage his tyres more, costing him even more time.

      It was much better for him to jump out of the way and manage his own pace. He was in free air and could control his pace to the car behind.

      I honestly don’t know why people find it so hard to understand Force India did this to benefit themselves not Mercedes.

      1. I honestly don’t know why people find it so hard to understand Force India did this to benefit themselves not Mercedes

        See the continued claims that Glock deliberately allowed Hamilton passed to give him the championship in 2008 for more evidence of peoples inability to logically process simple information.

      2. Yeah, must be me expecting to see a RACE, and not realizing the joke F1 is today, thanks to the tyres state too. I’m watching F1 constantly since 1997, but don’t remember seeing/hearing stuff like this… until recently! Do not know why they bother with a race if everything is mostly predetermined and everybody is running his own race. This looks more like rallying and Quali is enough to “find” the champ.

        1. @mg1982 In all your years of watching F1, have you seen Verstappen being waved past by Sirotkin in the same race?

  11. Mercedes pitted Hamilton in the knowledge that Ocon would let him through, otherwise pitting him didn’t make sense.

  12. Why is it that it is Hamilton’s case that everyone always jumps on? Didn’t Bottas similarly pass Ocon just as fast as Hamilton did?

    1. yep, team orders between teams, sad state in F1.

    2. @pking008 cause bottas is small fish while hamilton is the big fish

    3. I didn’t see such an outrage here when Toro Rosso has conveniently moved out of the way of a Red Bull on many a occasion. Heck, I didn’t see any outrage when Schumacher let his compatriot, Vettel, past him really easily at Brazil 2012 to help him clinch the championship. It happens all the time in F1.

      This was in fact a situation where it would not only benefit Mercedes but also Force India because they would have lost a position to Alonso if they continued to fight Hamilton. It was a bit of a win-win situation as compared to more blatant examples of the past.

      1. Enough with this nonsense Vettel was already in a WDC position already the way he was driving he was going to overtake Schumacher anyway.

        1. @rockie

          Hamilton would have got past Ocon anyways… so what’s your point?

          1. @todfod
            Just correcting the falsehood you stated nothing more.

          2. @rockie
            You didn’t really correct any ‘falsehood’. You agreed Schumacher let him past and justified it by saying Vettel was going to get by him anyway.

            The same way anyone can justify that Hamilton was going to pass Ocon anyway.

          3. @todfod
            You claim Schumacher let him through to win the WDC, and that is false.
            Vettel would have won the WDC without getting past MSC.
            How is that hard to understand?
            Not going do this back n forth with you.

          4. @rockie

            Dude.. The point is not whether Vettel would have won the championship anyways, but the fact that there was favoritism among racing drivers.
            If you can’t get that simple fact in your head.. Then you’re right, there’s no point in even discussing this

          5. @todfod
            What exactly are you on about drivers helping each other is acceptable no one is arguing about that.
            You presented a factually incorrect statement and I pulled you up on it and also your false equivalency.

          6. @rockie

            What part was factually incorrect? The part Schumacher let Vettel past him that without putting up a fight?

      2. @todfod Lol, yeah and how Schumacher would always fight Hamilton tooth and nail to prevent him going past.

        I find that behavior more disturbing though. in this Ocon and Sirotkin let faster cars pass them because it was in their own best interest. That’s not preferential treatment to another team or driver, but simply aimed at maximizing their own race result.

  13. Funny no one was saying Verstappen’s pass on Stroll was the Williams driver waving him by (which was similarly easy and Stroll made no attempt to defend).

    I mean I get why certain people are here accusing FI of lying (because they have a vested interest in turning everything even remotely related to Hamilton into a negative) but lets look at this objectively:

    – Yes Ocon could have defended from Hamilton easily enough, but it would have slowed him down. Given that he was never going to finish ahead of Hamilton and because he needed to pit (and so lap as quickly as feasible to reduce the places he lost when he did pit) it makes infinitely more sense to not defend to hard and concentrate on his own race pace and tyre management. It’s a story we have seen repeated across many many driver pairs at many tracks for the last 8 years and for the most part no one bats an eyelid (see Verstappen on Stroll as mentioned above) but as soon as Hamilton is involved everyone gets their pitchforks out.

    1. Was going to post the same thing.

      Perhaps Mercedes and Force India have some agreement not to hold up each other too much. Just like Ferrari and Sauber will have. So yes in that sense there is probably some sort of “team order” going on.

      On the other hand it’s incredibly unlikely that Wolff in that instant called Force India and asked for Hamilton to be let through.

      As Ocon tells it I don’t get the sense the team told him at that moment to move over, he says it was the sensible thing to do for his own race . Just like Sirotkin moved out of the way to let Verstappen through.

    2. You really should see the Stroll-Verstappen overtake vs the Ocon-Hamilton overtake. Verstappen gets alongside Stroll, Stroll gives him room and the overtake is completed only under braking right near the chicane. On the other hand, Hamilton completed the overtake on Ocon right after the end of tunnel MUCH BEFORE the braking zone. While the first was a case of a slower car not making it too difficult for the faster car, the latter was a case of a slower car ACTIVELY moving out of the way for the faster car.
      Ocon wasn’t just looking out for his own race, he was ACTIVELY helping Lewis there.

      1. Sumedh, that sums up perfectly. There is difference between not fighting like Stroll did and acting like a lapped car. The first case would have costed clearly less time for Ocon. And I highly doubt he would let Red Bull or Ferrari pass the same absolutely effortless way before the braking zone… Even giving benefit of the doubt to the credibility of that Belgian newspaper, Ocon’s reply in the post race interview was anything but “I was thinking about my race only and wouldn’t fight any leaders”. Even Martin Brundle called it realistically what it is…

        For those claiming “all the attention just because Hamilton was involved”. It’s definitely not. Yes, there is nothing new here. And yes, Ferrari have also blatantly screwed Kimi’s races a couple of times with (intern) team orders. And it’s really sad that such team orders occur that often. However, comparing to the last year massive media outcry after Monaco GP about possible Ferrari team orders, Mercedes and Force India are on vaction right now. And Mercs should also stop their dishonest PR “We-are-always-for-fighting/racing-unlike-Ferrari” campaign.

  14. I’ve seen harder overtakes on lapped cars with blue flags shown.

    1. Lol, yes you (we) have. Very true.

    2. I’ve seen cars unlapping themselves behind the SC having a harder time.

  15. What bull, it was obvious that Ocon and Force India played dead for Hamilton and Mercedes. It was another example of how F1 wants the help Mercedes dominate the circuit so that other car manufactures will field teams and how F1 will do anything to create success for its chosen drivers ( like Hamilton and Verstappen ) in hopes that having stars will help stem the tide of lost fans and lost fan dollars ( or Euros ).
    As to Ocon , I used to wish him well but, never again .
    As to F1, it keeps making the choice of F1 or Indycar easier and easier , the harder question is now becoming F1 or WEC .

    1. Please take the tin foil hat off and get a grip.

  16. Neil (@neilosjames)
    29th May 2018, 16:58

    I got the impression Hamilton would have passed anyway, given how close he was coming out of the tunnel. Ocon just lifted a bit earlier (we assume) than usual and made it a bit easier. I imagine he’d have done something very similar had it been a just-pitted Ferrari parked under his rear wing… fighting would have just cost him time.

    But, I would normally expect a Mercedes customer to be more accomodating to Mercedes. Just like I’d expect a Ferrari customer to be kind to a Ferrari, and a Toro Rosso to roll over for a Red Bull. Especially if the driver in the customer car was signed up to the main team.

  17. So this article here that claims that Toto confirmed it is fake?

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      29th May 2018, 17:32

      Toto also apparently confirmed it here: (note – it’s not in English and I don’t know reliable the site is)

      As usual, I just wish people would be honest a bit more… There is no way Ocon would have dived out of the way if Ricciardo or Vettel were behind him! Perhaps he wouldn’t have defended his position but he wouldn’t have physically slowed down and let them by!

      F1 is a team sport and Ocon is a Mercedes backed driver with a Mercedes powered car – I view him moving out the way the same as Toro Rosso moving out of the way for Red Bull. I imagine Leclerc would do the same for Ferrari.

      1. @petebaldwin, that is the thing – it seems that quite a few people have immediately leapt on the claim, though the question of how reliable the source of those claims are is questionable.

        There have been more than a few times when journalists translating from one language to another have given a rather misleading picture of what has happened, either by accident – due to the way in which they translated words that might have a different sense in another language – or by intention, given that few would be able to check and translate the original transcript.

        For what it is worth, La Derniere Heure, which seems to be the source for that quote, does have a few articles that seem to be a bit on the sensational side, such as running one suggesting that Cyril Abiteboul has been publicly mulling over the option of hiring Vandoorne to replace Sainz Jr if Sainz Jr was to return to Red Bull Racing in 2019 in the event of Ricciardo moving to Ferrari.

  18. Inter-team collusion is still banned in the Sporting Regulations, so regardless of what Ocon’s move was, I cannot imagine Toto Wolff being foolish enough to claim it was an order relating to Mercedes.

    As it happens, I’m inclined to believe Force India because Ocon didn’t manage to make the tyre last as it was. I do not see how any element of attempting to hold Hamilton off would have helped him out, and would merely have put him behind Hulkenberg after his pit stop. Hamilton is not a rival in the championship, even if he happened to be a rival in this race. Hulkenberg is definitely going to be a challenge for the championship.

    This was Force India thinking more long-term in its self-interest than is perhaps comfortable, but there is no particular reason to believe another team’s order would also be necessary. Especially given that Ocon appears to reserve over-defensive obedience of orders to situations when his team-mate is involved.

    1. Then why did Toto openly admit that was the case?

  19. When it was put to Ocon that he had made life easy for Hamilton, he confirmed that he had instructions from beyond the Force India pit wall.

    “I’m a Mercedes driver, you should ask the boss,” Ocon told Sky Italia.

    “It was pointless to fight with him, especially as he had new tyres.”

    Asked if he had been subject of team orders from Mercedes, Ocon replied: “Maybe.”

    Toto Wolff later confirmed that Ocon had indeed been instructed to let Hamilton past.

    go ahead and talk your way out of this !!!
    you guys need to just give it up and admit that it was bush league instead of coming up with creative nonsense to justify the acTual TRUTH.

  20. It’s 100% clear he let Lewis pass. No matter what they say. Ocon didn’t need to defend really to keep him behind. After all it is Monaco where Vettel couldn’t attack a limping RIC at all.

  21. I mean, it’s pretty clear given Ocon’s and Toto’s comments that there were orders. Toto literally said that was the case when they asked him point blank.

    But, everyone knows this is what goes on anyway so it’s a non story.

  22. It’s getting ridiculous now.

    Hamilton benefited from team orders being issued within the team on about 5 occasions last year, which was bad enough (Vettel didn’t get the benefit of team orders even once last year).

    Team orders within a team is one thing.

    But to pressure ANOTHER team into issuing an order to benefit Hamilton is just shameful.

    You could imagine the outrage if Ferrari demanded a Haas blatantly move over for Vettel.

    1. 5 times? I think it was only twice–an even then, he gave the position back in one of the races…

      And yes, Vettel did benefit from team orders and better strategy than Kimi in 2017. You just have a selective memory

      1. Vettel didn’t benefit once from team orders last year.

        Hamilton TWICE needed team orders pass Bottas in Bahrain.

        Hamilton won in Spain because Bottas sacrificed his own strategy by holding up Vettel for several laps with aggressive blocking. You would have thought Bottas was fighting Vettel for the win the way he was desperately trying to stay ahead of Vettel, not out of sequence on a different strategy.

        Then there was Hungary where Hamilton had to get on the radio and beg the team to move Bottas over for him (even though Hamilton told Mercedes that Rosberg can pass ‘if he gets close enough’ back in Hungary 2014).

        He also begged for the team to get Bottas out of his way in Baku last year.

        For a guy that says he doesn’t like or need team orders, he sure likes to ask the team to get teammates out of his way.

        1. “He also begged for the team to get Bottas out of his way in Baku last year.”

          No he didn’t. He asked if Bottas could slow the field, to help Hamilton catch up after the headrest issue. You conveniently forget
          (a)-Merc refused
          (b)-Hamilton offered to slow the field to help Bottas earlier in the race

          Hungary, you conveniently forget Hamilton handed the place back.

          Vettel benefitted from Kimi being used as a blockade in China. Not sure if one can posts links here but James Allen did a good article on this “Ferrari opted to keep Raikkonen out on track, past the ideal stop time for his tyre condition relative to the Red Bulls and Bottas. This cost him the chance of a podium.The main reason why they left Kimi out was to try to keep him in Hamilton’s pit window so he could be ahead after Hamilton’s stop and interfere with Hamilton’s race and bring Vettel back into play”

          Then of course Monaco, Kimi beating Vettel but then Ferrari pit Kimi into traffic and offer Vettel the overcut.

          Then of course there was Hungary, Vettel with a broken streering wheel, Ferrari wouldn’t allow Kimi to pass, wouldn’t offer Kimi the overcut in the way they offered it to Vettel in Monaco. kimi did state Ferrari used team orders

          Then of course, there was when Kimi offered Vettel a tow in qualifying (Spa)

          And then there was USA gp, Kimi ordered to let Vettel pass. Like i said, you have selective memory.

  23. Just look at łap times. Occon was two second słower in that łap.

  24. Imagine it was a team order to let Vettel through on a Hass or Sauber? The internet would be broken.

  25. Richard (@)
    1st June 2018, 4:09

    What Grub said is so true .
    If anyone other than Kimi let Vettel pass the Mercedes and Hamilton fans would have gone absolutely nuts and Toto and Niki would have asked the FIA to investigate citing the ban on inter-team cooperation .
    You can deny the truth but, that will not change it .
    Mercedes and Hamilton get special treatment . Its a fact of today’s F1 .

Comments are closed.