ocon photographers azerbaijan grand prix f1

Ocon: Scary moment at the end of Baku race

ocon photographers azerbaijan grand prix f1

The FIA, Formula 1’s governing body promised an immediate review of procedures after mechanics and photographers were in the fast lane when Alpine’s Esteban Ocon pitted at the end of the 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Baku Race Stewards said in a statement they had summoned representatives of the FIA after the ‘very dangerous’ last lap incident: “We noted that it was not unusual for the representatives to allow such persons into the pit lane just before the end of the race, in the usual course of preparation for parc ferme and the podium ceremony.

“However, in this case, there was one driver that had to pit in the last lap and this created a very dangerous situation for those that were in the pit lane at the time. We considered that it was fortunate that there were no serious consequences on account of what happened today.”

The F1 stewards said the FIA must “take immediate steps” to reconsider procedures and protocols and ensure the situation did not happen again: “The FIA representatives expressed their regret at what happened and assured us that they would do so in time for the next event,” the statement added.

Ocon: we must make sure these scenarios don’t happen again

After starting in the pitlane, Ocon had left it until the very end to make his mandatory tyre change and spoke of his shock as he entered the pitlane at speed: “I had a bit of a scary moment at the end of the race. When I came into pit and saw people congregating in the Pit Lane even though the race had not ended. Fortunately, nothing happened, but we must make sure these scenarios don’t happen again.”

Sky Sports television commentators called the scenes, with a throng of people already in the pitlane as the car arrived, “an absolute shambles” with photographers gathering in front of the ‘parc ferme’ area in the pit lane where the top three finishers park up after the slowing down lap, while mechanics were celebrating on the pit wall.

Race director Niels Wittich warned teams at the previous race in Australia that they risked punishment if personnel climb pitwall fences to celebrate as their drivers took the chequered flag.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner, whose drivers Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen finished first and second respectively, said the mechanics had their feet on the wall and had not climbed any fences.

He agreed, the situation with photographers needed to be looked into fast, as F1 jets into Miami for this weekend’s back-to-back, time-zone-defying, Grand Prix weekends. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin)