Alpine driver Esteban Ocon and Haas‘ Nico Hulkenberg took a gamble during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, completing the entire race on hard tyres in the hope of a late red flag to allow them to change to a different compound. However, the red flag they were hoping for didn’t materialize, and Ocon had to dive into the pits and grab soft tyres at the start of the final lap. With race leader Sergio Perez set to cross the finish line, Ocon had to navigate the pitlane and pass various paddock members who were already gathering at the top three parc ferme area.
Unfortunately, the situation was not helped by the blind approach to the pit entry, with drivers having to navigate a chicane before reaching the pit entry line. Ocon, therefore, couldn’t see what was happening until the last moment, which made his pitlane entry even more challenging, and several people had to jump out of the way to avoid being hit. The FIA took notice of the incident and announced that it was investigating what had happened, stating that its representatives responsible for managing the parc ferme area had been summoned to report to the Stewards at 17:30.
After the race, Ocon described the incident as a “crazy moment” that could have ended in disaster, and he didn’t understand why the ceremony and podium preparations were starting when the race wasn’t yet over. He said, “Arriving at 300 km/h, braking very late and I see the barriers and the people all around. This is crazy; it could have been a big, big one today.” Ocon added that “it’s definitely something that needs to be discussed as it is something we don’t want to see.” When asked how close he came to hitting someone, Ocon replied, “Well, quite close, I had to lift off, I had to back off, so I would not have liked to have been the ones in the middle there. If I miss the braking point, it is a big disaster, so that is a crazy moment.”