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Ocon at odds with Monza penalty for ‘racing action’

Ocon at odds with Monza penalty for ‘racing action’

Esteban Ocon disagreed with the Italian Grand Prix stewards’ decision to hand him a time penalty for a "racing action" with Sebastian Vettel similar to one that went unpunished at Monza in 2019 between Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton.

Ocon and Vettel were battling for position just outside the top-ten in the early stages of last Sunday’s race when the pair barred down to Monza’s second chicane.

Ocon entered the braking zone for the Variante della Roggia and drifted over to the racing line, with Vettel on the outside.

The Alpine’s rear right wheel touched the Aston Martin’s left front as the Frenchman failed to leave a car’s width on the outside, a contact and misdemeanor that earned Ocon a five-second time penalty, which he said squandered his chances of a top-ten finish.

But Ocon failed to understand why he had been punished when an almost identical move by Leclerc on Hamilton at the same corner two years ago was not sanctioned at the time by the stewards.

"The incident with Sebastian is a racing action, it’s not really a racing incident," Ocon said. "Because the same happened to Charles and Lewis in 2019, and there was no action there taken.

"So, we have no damage on the car, nothing really happened. That caused me a good three places, I would say. So, it’s a bit frustrating.

"We were side by side, a bit too close, but basically the track narrows once you arrive on braking. I didn’t really move the steering wheel.

"It’s just that the track just narrows and that’s what happened exactly with Charles and Lewis and if that incident didn’t have any penalties or things like that, then mine shouldn’t have as well, because it’s two of the same thing.

"So, I normally agree with the stewards, but this time I disagree with both I have to say."

FIA race director Michael Masi accepted the similarities between Ocon’s move and the Leclerc/Hamilton skirmish referenced by the Alpine charger but noted that the stewards view on the latter had subsequently changed.

"Similar, but not the same," Masi replied, alluding to the comparison.

"Secondly, after the 2019 one we did a complete discussion with all of the drivers, team principals and sporting directors. And it was sort of deemed in that situation that probably a five-second penalty would have been better than a black and white [flag]. So, exactly what came about."

Earlier in the race, Ocon was ordered to give back a spot to Nicholas Latifi after the Frenchman had cut the corner at Turn 4 and gained an advantage over the Canadian.

However, despite the two setbacks that left Ocon P10 at the checkered flag, the Alpine driver preferred to focus on the bigger picture at Monza.

"That race doesn’t reflect the work we’ve done this weekend. It was a tough weekend in terms of pace for us, but I think P7 or P6 would have been possible," Ocon added.

"So yeah, a bit frustrating with the incidents that happened on track, the penalties."

"We can always extract more from what the car is capable to do on race day, and also in qualifying. Recently we’ve been very strong on that and to have both cars again scoring, even if it’s small points, it is important for us."

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September 15, 2021 at 02:02PM

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