Esteban Ocon, Alpine, Las Vegas Strip Circuit, 2023

Ocon: I had to pass Verstappen and he needlessly ruined my lap

Formula 1

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Esteban Ocon blamed Max Verstappen for his elimination in the first round of qualifying for the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

The Alpine driver will start Saturday’s race from 17th on the grid after he failed to progress beyond Q1. His team mate Pierre Gasly took fourth on the grid.

Ocon said his final lap was ruined by Verstappen, who overtook him as they approached turn one at the start and forced him wide. Verstappen had been passed by Ocon moments earlier before the pair started their last laps in Q1.

The situation began to unfold on the Strip approaching turn 14. Verstappen was leading a queue of cars including Zhou Guanyu and Yuki Tsunoda. The Red Bull driver was told “stay in front of Zhou but let Tsunoda through” by his race engineer Lambiase, who earlier told him the AlphaTauri driver was on a ‘push’ lap, though he was not.

Meanwhile Ocon and Gasly were approaching the trio. While Lambiase told Verstappen “Tsunoda’s coming through now” he passed the queue of cars, including Tsunoda, separating him from Verstappen as they exited turn 14.

“What the fuck is that Alpine doing?” Verstappen asked. “No idea,” Lambiase replied.” Just build a gap to the cars ahead, Max. No threats behind.”

As Tsunoda accelerated to pass Verstappen, Ocon did as well, and overtook the Red Bull as they approached the final corner. Verstappen moved back to the inside for turn one and braked late, running wide at the exit of the corner.

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Verstappen called his rival a “stupid idiot.” Ocon was also frustrated, and after completing his lap said: “That’s a joke, honestly. Verstappen diving into one like crazy.”

His race engineer Josh Peckett told him: “That would have been comfortably in with a normal first sector. Sorry about that.” Lambiase also informed Verstappen of the consequences for Ocon: “For what it’s worth, Max, he didn’t make it through in Q1.”

Ocon said he had to ensure he completed a clean lap at the end of the session as his earlier effort had been ruined by traffic.

“On the first lap I got traffic in the worst possible sector, in the last corner and from turn seven to nine,” he said. “So I lost some time on that first lap.

“Then on the last lap, obviously we saw what happened. I lost a good seven, seven-and-a-half tenths or something into turn tone and almost didn’t improve by the end. So it was easily going to be through for us.

“I think the pace of the car looked promising. Hopefully we can use that tomorrow in the race to catch back up.”

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He said he would have been at risk of failing to comply with the maximum lap time rule, which he fell foul of in the previous round at Interlagos, if he hadn’t passed the cars ahead of him. Ocon said Verstappen had no need to interfere with the start of his lap.

“The difference between me and him is that I have to do that lap because I had traffic in that first lap. And if I don’t do the second one, I’m out. He has plenty of pace so he can afford not to do his second lap.

“But we were not respecting the delta so we have to go, for the lap. We were plus on the delta, there was three cars queuing, but we had to go. We were going to be illegal and I already got penalised last race for one of these things so it shouldn’t happen again. I had no choice, I had to go.

“So that was it. The difference between me and Max is that Max is third, I’m 17th.”

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2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix

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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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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40 comments on “Ocon: I had to pass Verstappen and he needlessly ruined my lap”

  1. No no Ocon. You were being a little bit naughty and the teacher decided to intervene.

    1. Yeah I find it hard to believe he was that hard-pressed by the maximum lap time if he’d overtaken all those cars.

    2. And he’s got experience with Verstappen and racing him in strange moments.

      1. “Tell the Haas they better be ready! This is the Esteban Ocon they’re dealing with!”

  2. Yeah, because you passed him first. What goes around, comes around.

  3. Ocon is a bit like the guy who complains that all his exes were trouble and all his bosses were unreasonable, never stopping to notice that the only person involved in all those cases is himself.

    It’s funny to see his antics as a spectator, but I imagine the people at Alpine aren’t as pleased that he keeps needlessly getting himself involved in these shenanigans.

    1. I think that Perez explained it well a few years ago, saying that he (Ocon) lacks intelligence. Without wishing to be harsh on Esteban (not that he’ll read this anyway), but that’s my impression of him for a long time now. I’m not saying that he’s dumb, but in F1 each extra IQ point counts. Or perhaps it’s just his character and wrong impression, I don’t know; but he confirms it way too often.

      1. I think he’ll soon be out of F1. Not cause a lack of talent, but because he lacks enough talent to justify all the problems he causes.

  4. The bully was not even investigated. F1 is a complete joke

    1. @madmax explain why there should have been an investigation.

      1. So on purpose dive-bombing and blocking other cars in qualy is ok now? I thought there was something called Impeding.

        1. No impediment when no one is on a push lap.

          1. ocon was. he just started, when he go divebombed

          2. He may have been on a lap himself but he still impeded ocon by divebombing him ruining both their laps. He also went off in the process. The only reason max didn’t get a penalty is because ocon avoided the crash that max put up in the air

    2. @madmax They were both on push laps, so they are free to race each other. Sometimes happens at the end of a session, and as long as both are trying to improve, there is nothing to penalise. Usually ends up ruining both drivers’ laps, as happened here, but Max’s lap would’ve been ruined anyway because he was too close to Ocon after getting overtaken at the end of his prep lap.

      1. Max did nothing but divebomb to ruin Ocons lap.

        1. Ocons fault for avoiding the collision

        2. Sure, Max did re-pay Ocon for his stupid move. Guess who’s never going to try screwing Max like this, again.
          A driver needs to show he’ll bite back, or he will get eaten. You think Fernando or Lewis would’ve let this pass?
          Some drivers start whining, but what Ocon did was legal but non sportif, so he would’ve gotten away with it.
          Max would’ve looked the idiot for letting it happen.
          Esteban has a long history of “grey-zone” issues, but never, ever accepts he could’ve expected what happened.

    3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      19th November 2023, 3:01

      @madmax I have to agree that it was beyond awkward that it wasn’t investigated.

      At least the stewards made sure that Sainz got penalized for his behavior ;-)

  5. Ocon acknowledges the all-important factor that he had wasted too much time during his out lap – however, that doesn’t excused Verstappen impeding him (destroying his lap) just to get revenge for the overtake the lap prior.

    Totally worthy of an impeding penalty for Verstappen, and also a great lesson for Ocon and his engineer about wasting too much time on the out-lap when you need to nail the following lap at the end of a session.

    Ocon is a bit like the guy who complains that all his exes were trouble and all his bosses were unreasonable, never stopping to notice that the only person involved in all those cases is himself.

    Ocon has a bit of an assertive approach to his racing, sure. But at the same time, much like like Grosjean, he isn’t always the one causing all the incidents he’s involved in – but he still cops the blame for them in the public eye, @MichaelN.
    I think on this occasion Ocon was done over by both Verstappen and his own engineer at least as much as himself.

  6. When you break a gentleman’s agreement and ruin someone else’s lap, you really should just be quiet after you get some receipts. Next time, plan your out lap better.

  7. Ocon arrived last with his race engineer clearly stating nobody behind and was not rushing him to start the lap.

    Ocon then maneuvered dangerously between cars trying to overtake, then stopped to try again.

    In doing so impacted the final laps of 3-4 cars while we easily could have waited like the rest did.

    Ocon had many of these incidents where be blamed the other driver while he himself is at fault.

    Still Max should not have dive bombed into turn 1 although I did very much enjoy seeing Ocon being out in Q3.

  8. So it’s ok for the Red Bull Lite driver to break the gentleman’s agreement but not ok for Ocon. It definitely should be investigated because VER’s only reason to be on the track seems to be as a blocker for TSU. Keep ZHO behind and let TSU pass is a very interesting radio call for the 2 “independent” Red Bull teams. I believe the collusion between RB and AT is how RB made such strides in the salary cap era. You never hear of AT bringing upgrades or having any expectations to do well. I think that AT designers also work on RB parts, that just happen to also be AT parts. It’s all within the rules but the radio calls today clearly show that RB is not only aware of where AT cars on the track but also what the AT strategy is when they leave the pits. Investigation necessary.

    1. Like Max said: fans from the US don’t understand what F1 drivers do anyway ;-p

    2. @jimfromus As the article says, Verstappen was mistakenly told that Tsunoda was on a push lap, hence the message to let him through but nobody else. Or is that part of the conspiracy? Must be pretty confusing for all the engineers and drivers to figure out what’s really going on when half the info they’re getting is in some kind of code

    3. @jimfromus a lot to unpack in your post, but basically all of it is either wrong or you not understanding how things work in F1.
      – the radio call wasn’t “interesting” at all, see Keith above
      – salary cap? Cost cap.
      – you never hear of AT bringing upgrades? Pay more attention.
      – OF COURSE Red Bull know where AT cars are on track. Everyone knows where all cars are on track! What, you think we can see in the F1 app where the drivers are but the teams don’t have more detailed info on that?
      – no expectations for AT to do well? They’ve historically had a budget far lower than the top teams, you couldn’t expect them to come close to them. We’ll see if the cost cap allow them to make more progress
      – you “think” AT designers work on RB parts? On what basis? You do understand F1 teams are under huge scrutiny?
      – you don’t need info on strategy “when leaving the pits” to infer when a driver is on a hot lap

      You should really do better.

  9. On a dutch site Verstappen acknowledged he deliberately ruined the lap for Ocon.
    “Everybody was pulling a gap. All of a sudden he dives between two cars, all drifting. He already almost hit the back of my car, before turn 14. So I’m leaving a gap for the others but he tries to …. me at the last corner to begin his lap. I thought: If you try to …. me I’m just …. you in turn 1, and that worked out fine.”

    1. as everybody knows him for the stupid bully he is

      1. Sounds pretty smart to me.

        As for bullying, Max does not let himself get bullied, there is a difference. Not that any such nuance would get past your pathological Max aversion.

    2. Ocon should just have crashed straight into him. That would have been well deserved.

    3. If this is the case then it needs investigating. Verstappen isn’t a steward. If Ocon has done something wrong then call it out and leave it to the stewards to investigate.

      It wouldn’t be the first time he’s taken matters into his own hands. And it wouldn’t be the first time nothing has been done about it either.

      1. What Ocon did was strictly legal, what Verstappen did in retaliation was legal. Both were un-sportive.
        You think the stewards would’ve punished Ocon for ruining Max’s lap? On what grounds? They both were in an out-lap, Max in front, in the faster car, Ocon behind, in the slower car, with no shortage of time to start his lap.
        The message from Esteban was: “Screw you”. Max responded by teaching him, or someone at Alpine who might be smarter a probably valuable lesson. My guess is that the race engineer for Esteban will have a lengthy strategy talk.

    4. Ocon reaped the whirlwind. And, for the record, I thoroughly dislike Max. But pretty much no one the grid trusts Ocon or respects the way he races.

      1. It’s not up to other drivers to police him though, that’s a job for the stewards.

        1. @oweng the stewards didn’t need to police Ocon, he did nothing illegal.
          Same goes for Max – he did nothing illegal.

          All good.

        2. It is when they don’t do anything.

  10. The difference between me and him is that I have to do that lap because I had traffic in that first lap. And if I don’t do the second one, I’m out. He has plenty of pace so he can afford not to do his second lap.

    That’s not how it works Esteban, you do not get privileges if you haven’t set a good lap yet. Plus Max had every reason to do another fast lap, as the difference between p4 and p16 was only 0.513. A sudden tailwind on that long straight and a bit of track evolution could have easily put him in the danger zone.

  11. This guy, will never accept own mistakes. No wonder he is so popular.

Comments are closed.