Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso have both avoided penalty after the Brazilian Grand Prix stewards decided neither was predominately to blame for their clash in sprint qualifying.
In the closing minutes of SQ1, Alonso had just completed a flying lap, while Ocon behind him was finishing his out-lap and beginning his final flying lap of the session. As Alonso rounded the first two corners, he was warned by race engineer Chris Cronin of “Ocon, four [seconds] behind, starting a lap”.
Alonso slowed and moved to the outside of the long turn three left-hander, being warned as he did that Ocon was now two-and-a-half seconds behind. As Ocon arrived into turn three at full speed, he appeared to lose the rear of his Alpine over the kerbs and suffered a snap of oversteer. When he tried to counter-steer to correct his car, Ocon’s car moved towards the centre of the circuit, while Alonso appeared to drift back towards the racing line. The pair clipped wheels, sending Ocon into the tyre barriers and causing damage to the front of Alonso’s car.
Ocon blamed the Aston Martin driver for the clash, accusing Alonso of being in the centre of the track when contact was made. Alonso was of the view that it was a result of him being in the “wrong place, wrong moment.”
After investigating the incident and speaking with both drivers, the stewards chose to take no further action against either Ocon or Alonso.
“The stewards determined that Alonso was aware that Ocon was approaching at high speed on the exit of turn two,” they explained. “Thus, Alonso moved off of the racing line so that Ocon could pass.
“At turn three, Ocon lost the balance of the car and went wide on the exit. At the same time, Alonso turned more towards the racing line giving less room for Ocon. The combination of these two elements lead to the collision.
“The stewards determined that no driver was wholly or predominantly to blame. Therefore, no penalty is applied.”
Should both cars be repaired in time for the sprint race, the pair will start alongside each other on the grid, with Alonso starting in 15th, just ahead of Ocon in 16th.
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