Max Verstappen, Esteban Ocon, Interlagos, 2018

Ocon shouldn’t have been “fighting” Verstappen – Whiting

2018 Brazilian Grand Prix

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FIA race director Charlie Whiting has shed light on Esteban Ocon’s stiff penalty for tangling with Max Verstappen in the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Ocon was given a 10-second stop-go penalty after he knocked the race leader into a spin at turn two during the race. Ocon was a lap behind Verstappen at the time and trying to un-lap himself.

Whiting confirmed Ocon was allowed to do so but. “He’s absolutely allowed to un-lap himself. That’s clear. It’s happened many times in the past.”

However according to Whiting drivers must overtake cleanly and without fighting for position when trying to regain a lap from another car.

“Of course you would expect it to be done safely. But more to the point it should be done cleanly and absolutely without fighting. He shouldn’t be fighting to get past.

“If he’s got the pace then normally one would expect Red Bull to say ‘Ocon’s got the pace, just let him through’, that sort of thing. But it seemed that he just went for it and it was a bit unfortunate that he decided to fight for it which was wholly unacceptable.”

Whiting, who can refer incidents to the stewards but does not rule on them, says it should have made no difference to Ocon’s penalty that Verstappen happened to be the race leader.

“I don’t think it makes any difference that he was a leader. It makes it worse in a lot of people’s eyes but as far as the stewards are concerned that doesn’t matter.”

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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...
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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57 comments on “Ocon shouldn’t have been “fighting” Verstappen – Whiting”

  1. Exactly. Which is also why comparisons with Bottas and Hamilton in 2013 are so wide of the mark. Different situation entirely.

  2. Would have to agree with Charlie on this one. He’s not supposed to fight hard when he’s trying to unlap himself. If he had a strong enough pace over the Red Bull, he could have overtaken him with ease on a straight or some other part of the circuit, but he isn’t entitled to risky moves to get by the car a lap in front of him.

    Unlapping requires a little compliance from the driver a lap ahead. If he wasn’t getting compliance from Max, he should have just contacted his team or race control instead of trying a move that was never going to work.

    1. @todfod, I totally agree. It was idiotic of Ocon to try that move.

  3. Even Villeneuve defends Max pushing and calls Ocon an ambarrassment – case closed :-)
    https://www.motorsport.com/f1/news/villeneuve-ocon-embarrassment-verstappen-clash/3212587/

    1. @jelle-van-der-meer – To me, the chuckle-worthy line in that article was:

      The Canadian added: “I thought he [Verstappen] was very restrained in his reaction. He didn’t even punch him!

      F1 really was different before I started viewing it :-)

    2. I mean, reflexively, I always disagree with Villeneuve, so this is conflicting.

      1. @hahostolze I’d love to see you computing that information, trying to move on with life but reapeating to youself “I’ve just agreed with Jacques Villeneueve, I’ve just agreed with Jacques Villeneuve…”

      2. @hahostolze
        I’d say he’s right about half of the time. Some of his comments are truly insightful, some of them are truly hair-raising. There’s no shame in agreeing with him on a good day.

        1. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
          12th November 2018, 10:51

          and some contain a certain truth, but are presented too bluntly

          1. Can we jusr revel in the glory of a Dutch Guy calling an English man “too blunt”

          2. @sleepywill
            Your idea of how the ‘English man’ is generally perceived (or, more generally, is) might require some recalibration. I’ll just say that even if the ‘Dutch guy’ had called the English in and of himself too blunt, there would be nothing in my idea of how the English man is generally perceived (including by me) that would make this comment particularly glorious or funny. It wouldn’t be a sign of particularly good manners, but it wouldn’t collide with my world view anywhere near the same way an Algerian calling the European climate too hot would.

            Secondly, he didn’t say that about an English man in general. He said it about a specific person, namely Jacques Villeneuve. You know, that ex-F1 driver who regularly resorts to rather blunt polemics to keep his boredom at bay. In other words, a man whose opinions can sometimes quite accurately be accused of being presented too bluntly.

            Thirdly, Jacques Villeneuve isn’t an ‘English man’ by any meaning of the word.

  4. Weird how the Stewards referenced the fact Max was the race leader if it was entirely irrelevant…

    1. This does have a feel of Spa 2012 about it in that respect.

      1. Fairly cut and dry for me. The stewards referenced Max’s race leader position as that was relevant to the fact that Ocon was trying to unlap himself, which can only be done while being a lap down and getting ahead of the leader, either by passing him, or the leader pitting.

        The fact that the race leader was the one who lost out in the incident is not to be considered for extra penalty towards Ocon.

        In Spa 2012 Championship contenders were involved which is why there was debate about penalties. Yesterday Max was not a Championship contender, and the gift to LH did not change that LH was already the 2018 WDC.

        1. @robbie the point is that it should make no difference who is involved, championship contenders or otherwise. it completely skews the application of the rules and penalties. the rules are there to ensure fair and safe racing – not to protect the points situation in the championship. you make it sound like the rules should be different now the title is won, which is an absurd idea.

          spa 2012 was a travesty in this regard.

          1. @frood19 No no I agree, so it was probably just in my wording. I agree that just because Max was the leader doesn’t mean they should apply extra penalty to Ocon. And wrt Spa 2012, I only got as far as clicking on Keith’s link and seeing that there was at least debate about an extra penalty to Grosjean due to the fact that Championship contenders were involved. Perhaps I should research that race more closely as it sounds like you are saying they did indeed apply extra penalty to Grosjean due to who he took out.

          2. @frood19 Yeah fair enough my bad. I didn’t look closely enough at the fact that indeed part of Grosjean’s penalty was because of who he took out, and yeah while instinctively that sort of make sense to many, logistically it doesn’t the reasons for which you describe well in your response to me regarding the application of the rules. Also I’m sure Grosjean wasn’t intentionally targeting any particular drivers and was trying to race his race and I’m sure would much rather that incident had not happened. I’m sure part of what gets wrapped up in these debates is if a driver does this sort of thing often in which case there might be some pressure to squelch that with an ‘ok we’ve had enough of this’ type of accumulated penalty, akin to gaining enough demerits that a ban is the next step.

        2. A win for Verstappen would mean he would climb to 4th in the wdc ranking, at the expense of mercedes’ wingman.

        3. With a win, Max would become 4th in the wdc ranking at bottas’ expense.

  5. It was a completely lost move even if it had been for position, I think.

    I don’t like it, but some blood and anger isn’t bad. I rather see them pushing around and sorting it out themselves than a driver shouting to the race director to “f-off” over the radio, to be honest!

    1. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
      12th November 2018, 10:54

      It was a completely lost move even if it had been for position, I think.

      I think this is the issue, that move wasn’t gonna work out. He should’ve held his horses and passed Verstappen on the run to turn 4, where he had DRS and the power advantage. Had he done so, he might’ve made the move, without actually influencing the race result. Had he slotted in in the Senna S, he’d be right on verstappen’s tail to pull off that move cleanly. Instead, he wiped out the race leader, which is never a good thing to do.

    2. I kind of agree about the radio thing, but it could at least be a decent scrap then. It was about emotional as two tortoises fighting over a bit of lettuce.

    3. @fer-no65 I don’t think it was a lost move, Had Max left a bit more room they would have both got through the corner & Ocon would likely have still been alongside into T3 & been in a better position to make his way past into T4.

      Max actually pulled a similar move on Perez in 2015 & he made it work thanks to Perez leaving just enough room & Kimi also did it on Schumacher (Both shown in the video below).
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fg-KiiKIqVM
      I think the Kimi/Schumacher one is perhaps more similar & shows what Max probably should have done in terms of leaving a bit more room & what woudl have happened if he had.

  6. He indeed shouldn’t have.

  7. Disagree with Whiting and the stewards (and possibly everyone else above). You can’t say Ocon can unlap himself, then have Verstappen decide to speed up from his tyre conserving mode and race him to prevent the unlapping, and expect Ocon to immediately cede (on the same corner). Verstappen turned it into a race so he has to treat the situation accordingly and not cut across Ocon on turn 2.

    1. David (@billyboltaction)
      12th November 2018, 10:57

      I have to agree with you. I would be interested in what the stewards would have said about the incident if it had actually been for position rather than OCO unlapping himself. To me, VER didn’t leave racing room and went for an apex when a car was alongside so he was the cause of the collision.

      Saying that OCO shouldn’t have been there because he’s a lap down isn’t what I would have expected. Unlapping is unlapping and is part of the racing, surely?

      I find the whole episode odd and the penalty harsh. I think VER has to take a proportion of the blame. He should have been aware of OCOs position and left racing room.

      1. I disagree. Max made it a race, yeah, because he had raced himself past two Ferraris and two Mercs. He had also passed Ocon already and owned the second corner. Max did nothing wrong here whatsoever, hence the penalty to Ocon. Do we really want races decided by backmarkers trying to unlap themselves and hitting leaders as a result? It was a clumsy dive to the inside of Max. Had it been LH, LH fans would be shouting from the highest mountain that he had owned the second corner by being plenty ahead and forcing the trailing car to either back off or go wide. Setting the unlapping concept aside, it was still a clumsy move by Ocon that was penalty worthy.

        1. @robbie Robbie, if you drive across a red light, is the oncoming traffic at fault? Max had no more than a 1/3 of a car length advantage, which as far as I know means he didn’t ‘own’ the second corner and had plenty of space to give Ocon room. Instead he put down a territorial marker and paid the price. It was probably a racing incident under normal circumstances (or Verstappen’s fault if we take the 2014 precedent against Hamilton v. Bottas at Interlagos with a similar situation). The stewards didn’t rule on the incident itself but judged that Ocon shouldn’t have been racing (so there shouldn’t have been a racing incident). My point is that Verstappen himself turned an unlapping into a race. He’s entitled to do that but not entitled, I’s argue, to think that Ocon had to give up before completing the first corner and the attempted unlapping. And in practical terms it was a mistake that cost him the race.

          1. Max had a lap and 1/3 car length advantage. The main issue with Ocon’s move is that he could have unlapped himself, but by doing so would still be 16th. Hè had no real gain by the move.

    2. +1; as reconfirmed by Lewis, too: (as) Ocon had nothing to loose and Mad Max everything”, Mad Max should have been more careful and left a car’s s width.

      Furthermore: it feels like justice is made, after what MadMax has made to drivers (e.g. Vettel) to loose championships, victories and podiums. He now understands how it hurts..!

  8. I don’t understand Whiting sometimes. And I’m beginning to think he is getting confused.

    ….I don’t think it makes any difference that he was a leader. It makes it worse in a lot of people’s eyes but as far as the stewards are concerned that doesn’t matter…..

    But the FIA also penalizes some drivers more for interfering with the championship.
    Then you have the backmarker cars must give way rule after so many blue flags.
    Ocon indeed had the right to try unlap himself, but he had no business endangering the race leader.

    1. The race leader endangered himself, quoting Hamilton: “I felt like it was fair game for him to try to un-lap himself. Of course you don’t want to cause an incident. But in those scenarios you give each other space. It’s as simple as that. It’s so simple to give each other space.” Verstappen though – as ever – wanted to impose his presence on the other driver, rather than take a different line for one corner. His choice.

      1. It’s so simple to say it is so simple when you are not involved and when it is after the fact. In the milliseconds during which this was happening Max had no reason to think he would need to leave space for a backmarker that he had just passed. LH would not have, going by how he usually drives, which is usually with controlled aggression.

        1. @robbie So by your own logic, the same applies to Ocon, he had milliseconds to realize that Max wasn’t simply going to let him unlap himself. And like I said above, MV hadn’t passed him, he was marginally ahead only.

          1. @david-br No the difference is that Ocon was trailing and had it in his control to back off and should have. As per Whiting and the stewards and Brundle etc he was not to be challenging the leader of the race as he did, and if he had so much more sustainable pace to keep ahead of Max he needed to pick a different spot for that pass attempt. Dive bombing Max was obviously penalty worthy and harmed his own cause with the stop and go, so more patience would have been prudent rather than risking what he did against the race leader.

          2. Ocon wasn’t racing Max, he was trying to maximize his own race by unlapping himself. So what was Max doing deciding to race after Ocon in turn 1 and then block him from passing in turn 2? Maybe he thought his own race would be compromised by being stuck behind Ocon. Or maybe (my suspicion at least) he just didn’t want to be passed. That’s what Hamilton was on about probably. Verstappen was totally impressive getting into P1 during the race, then threw it away by tangling with Ocon when he could and should have given room. It’s irrelevant what Ocon was up to – he was easy to avoid.

      2. To some extent the race leader apparently did should not have assumed Ocon was thinking rationally. But given the benefit of doubt, he probably did not expect such a hard attempt to overtake, like they were racing for position. Had Ocon been further ahead, I’d understand, but Ocon had dropped back a few meters by the time the turn was being negotiated.

  9. Either the rules say a driver can unlap themselves or they don’t. If they don’t then Ocon should have been penalised. If he was allowed to unlap himself then Verstappen leading the race was irrelevant.

    The only thing that matters is that the racing rules are obeyed.

    Charlie has again shown himself to be out of touch with the rules that he is supposed to be enforcing. He is so wishy-washy and comments on what he thinks drivers should do, not on what the rules say they must do. No wonder the stewards rule differently each time.

    1. Of course it is not about whether Ocon was allowed to unlap himself, it is about how he did it. We’ve established he was allowed to try. The stewards decided he erred in his attempt.

  10. Fikri Harish (@)
    12th November 2018, 11:48

    “Of course you would expect it to be done safely. But more to the point it should be done cleanly and absolutely without fighting. He shouldn’t be fighting to get past.”

    Oh come on Charlie, this is just pure naivete in your part.
    Ocon could’ve divebombed on the first part of the chicane if he wanted a fight but he didn’t, he chose the outside line in order to get on the inside line on the second part of the chicane. But then Verstappen closed the door on him.
    Could Ocon have waited until the 2nd DRS zone to made his move? He could and I’d argue that he should’ve, which is why I’m not absolving Ocon here but Verstappen could and should’ve also leave more space for Ocon.

    To have a clean overtake, one that’s done absolutely without fighting, requires sportsmanship from the other party and since it was clear Verstappen had none of that in store, Ocon shouldn’t have been penalized for this.

    1. Max did the clean overtake and then as the leader expected not to be dive-bombed by Ocon. It was sportsmanship that Max expected from Ocon and didn’t get it.

      1. @robbie Max never overtook Ocon because Ocon was not actually been lapped.

        This is what isn’t really shown by the replays. Ocon had come out of the pits a lap or 2 before & on the softer, Fresher & faster compound he had been catching Max from behind & was actually been held up by Max at this point in the race. On this particular lap he got a great run out of the final corner, Got the best slipstream he’d had & had DRS which is why he managed to pull alongside Max into T1.

        1. Wait.. so ocon was leading the race? Fighting with Lewis and max?? No, he wasn’t, he was lapped on the main straight and he tried to get unlapped in the first corner, you’re allowed to unlap yourself but not allowed to fight, also what was the point? To get blue flags few corners later? It was a stupid move by ocon

          1. @j3d89

            No, he wasn’t, he was lapped on the main straight and he tried to get unlapped in the first corner

            HE was lapped in the pits not on the main straight and when he came out of the pits on frech tyres was much faster than the leaders which is why he caught Verstappen

            you’re allowed to unlap yourself but not allowed to fight, also what was the point? To get blue flags few corners later?

            The point was that Ocon was trying to maintain his position over (or undercut I can’t remember now) the other cars he WAS fighting with (Renault (?)) at the time.

  11. I mistook this for “Verstappen shouldn’t have been fighting Ocon”.

  12. There’s a certain irony that Max lost a grand prix win because of being on the receiving end of an overly aggresive overtake.

    1. There’s. Difference between ruining somebodys race while fighting for the position, and getting ruined by a backmarker, you’re allowed to unlap yourself but not to fight

      1. You can’t unlap with out a fight

  13. @stefmeister you are listing racing moves for position, to an optimistic attempt of unlapping. It’s an unwritten rule that if you want to unlap yourslef, you should be 110% that the move will stick without affecting the leader’s race (or even his preffered line).

    1. @gechichan I don’t think it was that optimistic.

      Ocon had a massive run out of the final corners & with the tow/DRS easily managed to pull alongside/ahead into T1 & stay more than half a car length alongside into T2. It’s not as if he dived in there having brakes way late with his wheels locked & car sideways or something, That move wasn’t optimistic I think it was in control, Realistic & totally fair.

      The thing I don’t get is why Max bothered trying to defend against it. The only reason Ocon ended up on the outside into T1 is because Max pulled to the left to defend the inside. Had Max stayed on the racing line & just let Ocon go up the inside nothing would have happened, Neither would have lost any time & both could have got on with there races.

      1. @stefmeister agreed on why Max didn’t let that slide, but he’s still a 20 year old who doesn’t know when to pick his battles. He’s the kind of personality that seems to phisically suffer when somebody overtakes him, and especially the likes of Ocon in a FI unlapping himself.

        But also, if Max would have let Ocon past, most probably in a couple of laps he would have to lap him again (as the FI was only this fast for the first few laps of the “new tires stint”), thus losing time even more. But indeed, it would have been so easy to just let this one slide and win the race.

  14. What Charlie says is this: “If this is Verstappen/Hamilton/Vettel, you cannot fight them unless you are Verstappen/Hamilton/Vettel”. Literally, he says that you cannot fight other The Chosen Ones racers, which is crazy.

    PS: In 2012, Hamilton was fighting Vettel even considering that the Brit was a lap down. And Hamilton did overtake Vettel. Hamilton wasn’t able to open a gap to Vettel because he couldn’t overtake Alonso. And Hamilton didn’t let Vettel back again.

  15. Just asking the question …. where was Max’s Race Engineer.????
    He should have been on the radio …. messaging something like ….
    “Ocon is behind you on fresh faster tyres.”
    “He is catching you and will be un-lapping you.”
    “Let him by … DO NOT RACE HIM … you will re-lap him in about 5 minutes.”
    Likely as not Max wasn’t even checking his mirrors, why should he, there was no one immediately behind him.
    Unfortunate incident and it could have been so easily avoided by any of the participants.

  16. Does F1 want to be successful in the USA? If so, stop penalizing guys for racing. I thought that is what a Grand Prix was. I guess it is the same European class system our ancestors left behind.

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