Toto Wolff, Esteban Ocon, Monaco, 2018

Ocon was “clever” to let Hamilton through in Monaco – Wolff

2018 Monaco Grand Prix

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Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff praised Esteban Ocon’s “clever” decision to let Lewis Hamilton pass him during the Monaco Grand Prix.

The Force India driver allowed Hamilton to pass him after the Mercedes pitted, which prevented Hamilton losing time which could have allowed Kimi Raikkonen to get out of the pits ahead of him.

This prompted accusations from unnamed rival teams that Mercedes told their customer team to move Ocon out of the way. But Wolff praised Ocon for acting on his own initiative.

“We were in a completely different race,” he said. “I actually thought that Esteban was doing the right thing, a clever thing for his own race.

“Rather than spending a handful of laps before he stopped, in his mirrors with Lewis behind him on a new set of tyres, he concentrated on his race. And that was I believe that was against a McLaren and another car. Clever.”

Force India technical director Andrew Green pointed out Ocon has previously let quicker cars through without instruction from the team, when holding them up might disadvantage his race.

“[In] race one, Melbourne, I think you’ll find there was a Mercedes drove through Melbourne in that race. No contact from us to [Ocon]. He knew he didn’t need to lose time with the Mercedes going through.

“He didn’t make it difficult for him, he lost the minimum amount of time. I can remember the manoeuvre, we said nothing on the radio to him.”

Force India’s chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer said Ocon’s priority was not losing time to Fernando Alonso.

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“We were running our own race, not against Lewis at the time, and we didn’t want to lose any time whatsoever,” he said.

Esteban Ocon, Force India, Monaco, 2018
Analysis: Ocon explains why he let Hamilton through in Monaco
“It was Alonso, if I remember right, that pitted just before and tried to undercut us, and what we didn’t want to do was lose any time at all with Lewis such that Alonso would have a chance to get us, which is why we told Esteban not to lose any time to Lewis.”

In fact Alonso made his pit stop five laps after Ocon let Hamilton through. However he was the closest car behind Ocon which had not yet pitted, making him the biggest threat to their race.

“Our risk was losing out to Alonso and that’s what we were really focused on, which is why we told Esteban don’t lose any time with Lewis,” said Szafnauer.

“Because what you can do is hold him back for five, six, seven laps, he gets you anyway, but now you’ve lost out to Lewis and you’ve lost out to the guy you’re really racing. You’re not racing him on track because he’s pitted already, and you haven’t. He’s somewhere back here making time up.

“And that’s the reason we did it. So whoever complained can maybe start looking at how they go racing.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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  • 15 comments on “Ocon was “clever” to let Hamilton through in Monaco – Wolff”

    1. The Mighty No 8
      10th June 2018, 10:58

      And you get a 2 month extension on you engine bill

      1. They keep digging themselves deeper. It’s inexcusable.

    2. They should let every driver do their own race 😁
      No FP1, FP2 and FP3. Just qualifying to see who starts first and gets to go home early. Then every driver gets an hour and a half of track individually. Whoever does the most distance wins!

      1. Then every driver gets an hour and a half of track individually. Whoever does the most distance wins

        What’s next? Aggregate Sundays? :p

    3. Ocon was “clever” to let Hamilton through in Monaco – Wolff

      O RLY?

    4. This is really a non-story. Drivers can choose to fight their battles as they see fit, and always have done. Hamilton was a pitstop ahead already so Ocon had very little chance of catching him. Even if it was due to being engine partners, it’s not like that has never happened before. The fact the accusing party won’t even do it publicly shows how little they expect anything to happen, it’s just posturing.

      1. Yeah I agree. Ocon had enough justification for concentrating on finishing ahead of Alonso to begin with. And even if he did let him through too easily, it’s justified given the relationships we have seen between Toro Rosso and Red Bull anyways. They’re just making a big deal out of nothing here.

      2. It actually happened during the same rqce between TR and Verstappen’s red bull

      3. Daniel Ricciardo’s victory proves you wrong.

    5. He was very clever for future unemployment for sure

      1. Employment- suggestive text again!

    6. It’s funny how everyone (Mercedes, Force India…) are denying the existing of team orders between Mercedes and FI to let Hamilton through while Ocon himself confirmed the existing of such agreement to TFI before the start of the Monaco GP
      “C’est chaud. Je n’ai pas le droit de trop ralentir les Mercedes [en course], mais le premier tour c’est libre donc on verra ce qu’il se passe”
      It’s intense. I don’t have the right of holding the Mercedes too much [in race], but the first lap is free to race so we will see what happens.

    7. Typically menacing Teutonic humour

    8. There aren’t many seats at the top teams in F1. If you want to drive for one of the big boys, you have to be clever.

    9. Michael Brown (@)
      10th June 2018, 14:04

      Does Wolff think people still care about this?

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