Alpine‘s Esteban Ocon was forced to take avoiding action on the final lap of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix as F1 personnel began to make their way into the pitlane ahead of the chequered flag. Ocon, who was on the hard Pirelli tyres, was hoping for a safety car or red flag to bunch the field and potentially allow him to gain a cheap pitstop onto the soft tyres. When neither of those scenarios transpired, Ocon was required to pit to avoid disqualification, similar to Nico Hulkenberg in 2020. However, with Sergio Perez poised to claim victory, Ocon was forced to take avoiding action and avoid a barrier that was being set up in the pitlane.
FIA personnel, who had begun setting up the parc ferme area and had allowed media access, faced questioning from the stewards over the incident. The FIA has called for immediate action to ensure no repeat cases, with input from the FIA and Formula One Management. In a statement, the FIA noted that while it was not unusual for personnel to be allowed in the pitlane at the end of a race, Ocon’s last-lap pitstop created a dangerous situation for those still in the pitlane.
In an interview post-race, Ocon described the incident as “crazy” and questioned why preparations for the podium ceremony had begun when racing was still underway. He added that arriving at 300 km/h and seeing barriers and people around him was a “big, big one today” and stressed the importance of ensuring a safe and orderly event.
Notably, a similar scenario occurred at the end of the 2020 Australian Grand Prix when Williams driver Alex Albon made a late pitstop, but no FIA hearing or action was taken at the time. The FIA has required its representatives to take immediate steps to reconsider procedures and protocols with stakeholders, including FOM and the teams, to prevent a repeat of such a situation.