Esteban Ocon, Alpine, Silverstone, 2023

“Thank God nothing happened” in high-speed near-miss with Zhou, says Ocon

2023 British Grand Prix

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Esteban Ocon says he and Zhou Guanyu were fortunate to avoid a major crash when the two came close to colliding in the high-speed Maggotts-Becketts-Chapel sequence during qualifying.

The stewards examined the incident but ruled the Alfa Romeo driver had been unable to avoid getting in his rival’s way.

Ocon caught his rival as he tackled one of the quickest sequences on the track. “It was wet that bit,” he explained. “Zhou was on the left, I think, and I lost the rear of the car going through 11 there and they were just on the outside so it was quite on the limit.

“But thank God nothing happened.”

After speaking to both drivers the stewards accepted Zhou’s explanation he had been unable to get out of Ocon’s way because Lewis Hamilton’s car was in front of him. They decided against penalising the Alfa Romeo driver.

“Zhou was on an out lap during Q1 and was at the exit of turn 11 and driving slowly on the racing line and thereby impeded Ocon who was on a fast lap,” the stewards acknowledged.

“However, in the hearing Zhou explained that he had to go slow to avoid Hamilton in front of him and had to stay on the left side of the track because as he entered the turn he was passed on the right by Bottas and could not have moved off the line without causing an unsafe situation. This was confirmed by his in-car camera.

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“Both drivers agreed that while Ocon was impeded there was not much that Zhou could have safely done in the conditions to avoid the incident and thus the Stewards take no further action.”

George Russell, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2023
Gallery: 2023 British Grand Prix qualifying in pictures
Ocon also encountered another of his rivals, Lance Stroll, at Vale, and went off the track trying to pass him. The Alpine driver said it was “obviously not the ideal start of the lap” but explained that it was another incident with a third driver which ultimately cost him a place in Q3.

“I made a mistake on that one, braked on the wet bit and went straight so that was a shame. But it’s not what prevented us from going into Q3,” said Ocon.

On his final flying lap in Q2, he lost more time behind Leclerc when he caught the Ferrari driver towards the end of the lap “The real issue was that Ferrari and Charles were on a two push-lap strategy,” Ocon explained. “We launched a lap just behind him – which would have been the case also if I didn’t try and overtake Lance at the end – so we were stuck for half of the lap.

“I lost half a second in that start of the lap. Charles eventually let me by the middle of the lap and from there on I was able to start gradually improving. But I missed Q3 by two tenths and a half or something, and we had clearly more than half a second in hand.

“So it’s difficult to swallow today that one, but we are quicker than what we’ve shown and we should be able to recover tomorrow.”

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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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6 comments on ““Thank God nothing happened” in high-speed near-miss with Zhou, says Ocon”

  1. Way too close to comfort.. An eyeblink later we would have had another horrific accident

  2. F1’s waiting for The Big One, and then they’ll argue about doing something…
    Just get the crook out for any driver trundling around dangerously slowly (Sainz was at it again). Start them from the pitlane. And lose the rubbish knife-edge tyres.

    1. There’s not a whole lot these drivers can do about it. As you note they have to deal with these awful tyres and are further limited by being unable to recharge the ES (4 MJ) over a single lap, so they can’t really do multiple qualifying laps in a row.

      Not sure why F1 can’t get over itself and accept that Indycar has it figured out, and that moving the timing line to just in front of the pit entry works very well to cut down the number of unnecessary laps in half.

      1. That IndyCar idea is a brilliant one! Is F1 too proud to accept that or is tradition getting in the way?

  3. Coventry Climax
    8th July 2023, 21:42

    So if Zhou couldn’t go anywhere and he got in that situation because of Hamilton being slow and in the way, why wasn’t Hamilton penalised then, or at least reprimanded for driving unnecessarily slow?

    1. Hamilton impeded noone, and Zhou was free to overtake him, if he would have liked to do so. You know, they are driving slower on their out laps. Seems twisted minds always try to make up things against Hamilton for no reason but their disgusting disgust.

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