Esteban Ocon Nearly Hits Spectators During Final Pit Stop

esteban ocon near miss
Ocon Nearly Hits Spectators During Final Pit StF1 on ESPN / Twitter

On the last lap of today's Grand prix of Azerbaijan, Esteban Ocon came in for his lone pit stop of the day only to turn past a blind chicane and find a swarm of people standing on the pit lane. The group ran away from Ocon's car before anyone was hit, but it was an unnecessarily sketchy moment that raised red flags throughout the paddock.

As the video shows, Ocon's pit entry is blind and he has no way of knowing people are waiting in the part of the pit lane meant for cars to drive through at relatively high restricted speeds until after rounding a chicane. There, he encounter a large group of people that are waiting to move into position to photograph, record, and otherwise participate in post-race ceremonies. Another angle shows that the group is surrounding a banner on either side, spread out across the width of the pit entry.

All of this is made worse by the fact that anyone watching the race knew Ocon's stop was a guarantee on that exact lap. Ocon chose to pit late because he had run the hard tire for the entire race in a gamble on a red flag that would allow the team to avoid making a timed stop at any point during the event. When the gamble failed, he came in on the last lap; had he not, he would not have completed the F1 mandate to run two compounds of tire over the course of a race.

Formula 1 immediately summoned FIA officials responsible for the mistake to the race direction team, which concluded that officials did in fact set up parc ferme before the race concluded. They noted that Ocon's rare circumstances made this common occurrence risky in a way it would otherwise not be, but that it nevertheless created a dangerous situation and that "it was fortunate there were no serious consequences" for the mistake. The summoned FIA representatives then claimed that steps would be taken to avoid a problem like this in the future.

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