FIA to review pit lane protocol after Esteban Ocon’s near-miss with people at the end of the Azerbaijan GP.
BAKU, Azerbaijan — An investigation into the near miss between Esteban Ocon‘s Alpine and multiple people gathering for the podium ceremony at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix has ordered the FIA to take immediate steps to avoid a repeat of the incident.
The governing body expressed its “regret” at what happened and ensured the investigating stewards that changes to procedures would be made in time for the next race in Miami.
The Alpine driver slowed to the pit lane speed limit of 80km/h on entry to the pits but said he had to slow further as a combination of photographers, officials and onlookers darted out the way to avoid being run over.
Ocon labelled the incident as “crazy,” adding “it could have been a big, big one today.”
The stewards of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, who are appointed by the FIA but act independently for reasons of impartiality, investigated the incident immediately after the race.
“The stewards heard from the FIA representatives and determined that the relevant representatives took steps to set up the parc ferme area and also permitted media and other personnel to gather in the start of the pit lane and the pit wall during the last lap of the race, while the pit lane was open and before the final pit stop of Ocon (Car 31),” a stewards statement said.
“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. We stressed that the requirements of ensuring a safe and orderly event are paramount.
“This was acknowledged by the FIA team. We walked through the relevant procedures and protocol with the FIA representatives in detail and required them to take immediate steps to reconsider these procedures and protocols with the relevant stakeholders (including FOM, the teams and the FIA) to ensure that this situation does not occur again.
“The FIA representatives expressed their regret at what happened and assured us that they would do so in time for the next event.”
Ocon was making a pit stop on the last lap in Baku after spending the entire race up to that point on the same set of hard tyres, delaying the mandatory pit stop all drivers need to make.
He was running in ninth place when he pitted and Alpine had left him on track as long as possible in the hope a late safety car or red flag would allow him to make the tyre change and stay in a points paying position.
The next round of the Formula One season will take place in Miami next weekend.