Esteban Ocon, Alpine, Baku City Circuit, 2023

FIA investigating Ocon’s “scary” near-miss with people in pit lane

2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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The FIA is investigating a near-miss between Esteban Ocon and a group of people in the pits during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The Alpine driver narrowly avoided running into the group standing in the pit lane when he came in to change tyres on the final lap of the race.

Ocon ran almost the entire race on the same set of hard compound tyres after starting from the pit lane. He came back into the pits on the final lap to fulfil his requirement under the regulations to run at least two compounds during the race.

As Ocon peeled into the pit lane, preparations had already begun to assemble parc ferme with photographers amassing around a fence erected to separate the top three finishers from the rest of the field. As Ocon headed down the pit lane, photographers and other personnel were forced to scramble out of the way of the Alpine, Ocon narrowly avoiding a handful of people as he drove passed.

Alpine completed the pit stop and Ocon finished the final lap on soft tyres, crossing the finish line in 15th. On his way back to parc ferme, Ocon’s race engineer Josh Peckett apologises for not warning his driver that there were people in the live pit lane.

“Sorry as well about the people on track at the pit entry,” Peckett said. “I didn’t realise they were there until you were already at them.”

“Yeah,” Ocon replied. “[A] bit scary.”

The FIA stewards have summoned “representatives of the FIA responsible for the parc fermé area at pit entry” to meet them at 5:30pm local time over “personnel blocking the fast lane in the pit lane on the final lap of the 2023Azerbaijan Grand Prix while the pit lane remained open.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, who witnessed the incident as his team were preparing to celebrate their one-two victory, said the incident “needs a review” and said Ocon had done nothing wrong.

“Esteban’s within his rights to pit on the last lap and finish the race in the pit lane, I think, if he wanted to,” he told Sky. “The FIA needs to perhaps police a little better before the end of a race.”

A similar scenario occured on the final lap of the Australian Grand Prix last year when Alexander Albon came into the pits as the parc ferme area was being constructed.

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2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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12 comments on “FIA investigating Ocon’s “scary” near-miss with people in pit lane”

  1. The same thing happened in Melbourne last season with Albon pitting on the final lap, so one would think FIA would’ve learned from that error, but apparently not.

  2. The commentary seemed to focus on Ocon’s need to pit, but even if he didn’t it’s pretty common for lower ranked cars to retire close to the end so the pit lane should be clear at all times. Hopefully it’ll not happen again.

  3. Horner saying the incident with photographers needs looking at, yet his crew climbed on the pit wall which was banned….

  4. ‘We investigated our actions and found nothing amiss.’

    1. Not forgetting the usual hackneyed phrase “lessons will be learned”

  5. There’s no need to prepare Parc Ferme etc in the pit lane before the race has finished at which point the pit lane can be closed. Ocon couldn’t have finished the race in the pit lane as Horner said, he was just pitting at the end of his 50th lap out of 51 which is just like any other lap.

    A possibility with a late pitstop is a driver could be lapped on their last lap and lose their chance to pit (maybe that’s why Haas pitted Hulkenberg at the end of lap 49). Even if this happened on pit entry the lapped driver would not be able to take their mandatory pitstop.

  6. Till the pit lane is open no one should stay on the way, period!

  7. When going back and watching old races, many things jump out at you as being incredibly dangerous. But pitstops in the late 80’s – early 90’s were bonkers. There was an article on here I think we’re you can see the amount of people in the pitlane at Donnington 93’. I’m not exaggerating when there could be 1,000 people. With no refuelling. Why are they there? It’s not like you’d see much of the race.

    That Mansell was disqualified for putting his Ferrari in reverse even as a kid I found that puzzling. How is that more dangerous than all the other shenanigans going on in an F1 pit lane at the time?

    1994 will always hold a weird place in F1s history, those weird chicanes that somehow seemed to make circuit’s more dangerous to making teams cut holes in their cars to lower power output.

    But what it did for pit lanes I think is an unquestionable success. I’ve never been given the option of being run over by a bus or an F1 car, but I’m inclined to go bus. There is a chance you’d just go between the wheels and come out the other side.

    An F1 car, I hate to think.

    1. @bernasaurus I believe the argument is that, since the mechanics would normally expect a driver to come from one direction only, with all of the infrastructure in the pit lane also set up on the expectation that drivers will only drive in one direction, people in the pit lane are more likely to be run over if a driver began reversing because they wouldn’t necessarily expect somebody to behave in that manner.

      If you use the case of Mansell in the 1989 Portuguese GP, if you watch the mechanics, some of the mechanics had to run into the fast lane to avoid Mansell’s car as he reversed, and thus could have been struck by another car entering the pits after him – that’s probably why they took a relatively hard line.

      In retrospect, as you note, some of the antics in the pit lane at that time look questionable – perhaps reflecting the fact that you had an expansion in both the number of entrants and in the number of mechanics, yet the infrastructure at most tracks probably hadn’t been upgraded since the 1960s or 1970s.

      1. some racing fan
        30th April 2023, 23:17

        In the case of Mansell at Estoril ‘89, reversing in the pits under a car’s own power was not allowed. Niki Lauda got DQ’ed for the same reason at Hockenheim ‘83.

    1st May 2023, 6:27

    Wait till some bright light will suggest to equip the cars with a horn!!!!

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