Esteban Ocon, Alpine, Yas Marina, 2021

Ocon reprimanded, no further action against Vettel or Ricciardo for qualifying impeding

2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Esteban Ocon has been given a formal reprimand for impeding Sebastian Vettel during the first phase of qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

It is Ocon’s second reprimand of the season, and his first driving-related reprimand of 2021. His Alpine team have also been fined €10,000 for the incident.

In their official decision, the stewards explained that “in evidence, the driver of Car 31 [Ocon] stated that he was given a warning that Car 5 [Vettel] was 2.5 seconds behind between Turns 15 and 16. However, due to the track layout he had no visibility of Car 5 until Turn 16 and hence had no time to react.”

The stewards further clarified their distinction between a driver ‘impeding’ a rival and simply ‘having an impact’ on their qualifying lap.

“Most cars did very slow warm up laps resulting in significantly large differences in speed to cars on fast laps,” the stewards explained. “This, combined with the desire of all drivers to establish a gap to the car in front when starting a fast lap, results in situations where a car may have an ‘impact’ on another car doing a fast lap. However, the Stewards consider this is different to ‘impeding’ and in particular, ‘unnecessarily impeding'”.

In the view of the stewards, the responsibility for Ocon’s impeding of Vettel was shared with his Alpine team than as much as the driver himself.

“It is the stewards’ determination that the driver of Car 31 [Ocon] could have done little if anything to avoid impacting Car 5 [Vettel]’s lap, but note that the team could have done more to have given him earlier warning of Car 5’s approach.

“Although normally the lack of radio communication does not absolve a driver from the responsibility to avoid unnecessarily impeding, in this case we consider this a justification for mitigation. Therefore, no grid penalty is imposed.”

No further action was taken against Vettel for a separate incident in the second phase of qualifying, where he was alleged to have impeded Pierre Gasly at turn one.

“The stewards note that almost certainly there was ‘dirty air’ created by Car 5 [Vettel] which did have an ‘impact’ on Car 10 [Gasly]. However the stewards determine that this does not amount to ‘unnecessarily impeding’,” the stewards explained.

There was also no further action taken against Daniel Ricciardo for allegedly impeding Fernando Alonso at turn 16, a run-in that precipitated strong comments from Alonso about an increase in impeding incidents from other drivers.

In the stewards’ decision on this third incident, they noted that “Car 14 [Alonso] was 41 seconds behind Car 3 [Ricciardo] at the exit of Turn 14. However Car 3 was part of a ‘chain’ of backed-up cars (as a result of double yellow flags at Turn 14) and as a result Car 14 quickly closed the gap on Car 3 and caught Car 3 at Turn 16. It is the Stewards’ determination that the driver of Car 3 could have done little, if anything, to avoid impacting Car 14’s lap.”

With no penalties having been imposed, all 20 drivers will provisionally start tomorrow’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from the positions in which they qualified today.

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RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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10 comments on “Ocon reprimanded, no further action against Vettel or Ricciardo for qualifying impeding”

  1. I wonder why there were yellow flags at the end of Q2? Even though Vettel stopped on track to wait for everyone, do the marshalls need to wave yellow flags? It’s not like that Vettel stopped because of a failure.

    1. @krichelle, I am convinced the yellow flags were due to the cars stopping. They were not showing the track’s sector but in the main feed it was alternating between yellow flags and green flags and since there were no offs I guess the marshals were showing them because cars had stopped. And they probably were confused…

      We know Vettel didn’t stop due to failure but if you are in the outside and see a car stopping you might think he had an issue. And to me a stationary car in the track is reason for waving the flag to notify incoming drivers (although it seems there were no drivers coming at that time)

    2. I think there might be sensors in the cars that automatically trigger yellows if they stop on track, but dont quote me on that.

  2. What about Hamilton impeding Haas driver? No reprimand there?

    1. This was practice, but even so, I think it was nonsense that hamilton didn’t get a reprimand here.

      But the reason likely is because he already has 2 – and no way could the stewards dare give him another or it would give him a 10 place grid penalty. But in reality, what he did was easily as bad as on Mazepin last weekend, but the only reason they won’t have given him the same penalty this time will be because the outcome of his 3rd reprimand of the season will have been so big.

      1. So far, “the only looking at the incident” approach as stated by masi in Silverstone.
        It would have been disappointing deciding a championship with penalties. Especially when in regards to Lewis :)

      2. I suspect it’s also because he was coming out of the pits so less visibility etc. But since Masi had to yell at the team about this last race seems like it was worth some comment. The team could have simply let him out like 3s later and easily avoided the situation.

        1. He only yell at non Brit

  3. Typical really, once again when an offense is against Vettel the stewards do nothing. Blocked in Netherlands, nothing. Blocked here, nothing. Where was this justification of no visibility for Vettel in Austria 2021 or 2018? In both cases he had no team radio telling him of a car on a hot lap, unlike Ocon here. Seriously, what is with this ridiculous inconsistency? Then again in Saudi Arabia Lewis was let off with the double yellow flag thing, but in Bahrain qualifying Vettel was penalized even though the double yellow came on only after he passed the panel and the marshall in front had no flags out. When Vettel gets penalzied like in Canada or Hungary it’s “rules are rules”, “letter of the law”, but here it’s rules are not rules.

    Unfortunately Vettel isn’t as vocal as he used to be or he just gave up. It’s a shame that he isn’t calling the stewards out.

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