Formula One driver Esteban Ocon avoided a potential disaster during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday as he narrowly missed several people lined up in pit road on the last lap of the race.
Photographers were lined up across pit road when Ocon came in to make a stop. Ocon got really close to hitting a few people but they were able to move out of the way before an incident.
“This is crazy,” Ocon said after the race, via ESPN. “It could have been a big, big one today. And it’s definitely something that needs to be discuss (sic). It’s something that we don’t want to see.”
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Ocon pit to satisfy the Formula One requirement on using two different types of tires during a race. It appeared the photographers were getting ready for Sergio Perez to come in and celebrate his victory over Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc.
“I don’t understand why we’re starting to prep the podium and prep the ceremony while we’re still racing. There’s one lap to go, there’s still people that didn’t pit. I’m arriving at 300 kph, I’m braking very late, I see the people around,” Ocon added.
Ocon admitted that if he missed hitting the brake, “it’s a big disaster.” He called on the FIA to take action so media members, or anyone else, don’t leak onto the roadway before the race is actually over.
“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 pitlane and the pitwall during the last lap of the race, while the pitlane was open and before the final pitstop of Ocon,” the FIA explained in a statement, via Autosport.
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“We noted that it was not unusual for the representatives to allow such persons into the pitlane 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 pitlane at the time.”
The sport’s governing body added that it was “fortunate” there were “no serious consequences” from the pit road incident.
“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 organization added.
“The FIA representatives expressed their regret at what happened and assured us that they would do so in time for the next event.”
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Perez picked up his second win of the season through four races.