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FIA to take "immediate steps" to avoid repeat of "dangerous" Ocon F1 pitlane near-miss

The FIA will take “immediate steps” to rectify the “very dangerous scenario” late in Formula 1’s 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix when Esteban Ocon had to avoid hitting personnel while pitting.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523, makes a stop during the Sprint

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Ocon stretched his starting hard compound Pirellis until the final lap, with his Alpine team hoping a late safety car or red flag event might create an opportunity for the driver to gain a cheaper pitstop.

With no such incident occurring, to avoid disqualification and similar to Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg, Ocon was required to pit on the run to the chequered flag in order to change onto a set of the soft tyres.

But, with Sergio Perez poised to claim victory, marshals and photographers had already started making their way into the live pitlane and it appeared as though a barrier was about to be set up, which forced Ocon into avoiding action.

The FIA therefore summoned its own parc ferme representatives in front of the stewards to explain an episode that was “fortunate” to conclude with “no serious consequences”.

The governing body has called for immediate remedies for the end-of-race pitlane protocol, with input from Formula One Management and the FIA, to ensure no repeat cases.

An FIA bulletin read: “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.

“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.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine F1 Team, in Parc Ferme

Esteban Ocon, Alpine F1 Team, in Parc Ferme

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

“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.”

Notably, a similar scenario unfolded at the end of the 2022 Australian Grand Prix when Williams driver Alex Albon made a late pitstop.

No FIA hearing or subsequent action was taken at the time.

Giving his account of the Baku near-miss, Ocon said: "That's not something that we want to see.

"I don't understand why we are starting to prepare the podium and the ceremony when we are still racing, there is one lap to go and there are still people who didn't pit.

"Arriving at 300 km/h [186mph], braking very late and I see the barriers and the people all around. This is crazy, it could have been a big, big one today.

"It's definitely something that needs to be discussed as it is something we don't want to see.

"If I miss the braking point, it is a big disaster, so that is a crazy moment."

An FIA spokesperson says the decision from the stewards has been received and the relevant procedures will be updated in time for the next race in Miami.

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