Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe

Ocon: More F1 drivers will miss grid slots despite tweaks

Alpine's Esteban Ocon believes more drivers will receive penalties this Formula 1 season for lining up incorrectly at the start despite wider grid boxes.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, the rest of the field at the start

Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Ocon was hit with a five-second time penalty in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix for lining up too far to the right of his grid box.

In the following race in Saudi Arabia, Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso similarly copped a penalty after he lined up to the left.

In the wake of those penalties, the FIA responded by widening the grid boxes by 20cm for the third grand prix in Melbourne. It also trialled a new guidance line in the first couple of grid boxes.

Ahead of 2023, grid boxes had already been made 20cm wider than the previous year following driver feedback.

But despite the extra margin, Ocon believes the poor visibility from the current crop of F1 cars will still cause more drivers to be hit by penalties this year.

"There's going to be a lot more cars this year that are going to be penalised this year, that's for sure," Ocon said.

"It just looks silly that we get penalised for these things because it can seem so simple, but it's because we can't see anything from where we are sitting.

"We've worked a lot with my team to try and lower me in the car, to have a lower position. We obviously were out of the rules, so we deserve the penalty."

Esteban Ocon, Alpine F1 Team, in the drivers parade

Esteban Ocon, Alpine F1 Team, in the drivers parade

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Ocon does concede the extra width should help, even if starting out of place laterally is "normally not an advantage" and therefore not as deserving of a penalty as starting too far forward.

"It was already 20 centimetres wider this year compared to last year. And now they are going 20 more so obviously it's going in the right direction," he explained.

"It's an advantage when you are too far forward, and we've always been penalised if we were too far forward.

"Before we were not penalised if we were a bit more to the left or to the right, because it's normally not an advantage. Now that rule has changed and obviously it's the same for everyone, so that's what we need to look out for and having it bigger should help."

Read Also:

Drivers are split on whether grid boxes have become a real issue in the 2022-era of cars. While Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas conceded visibility is limited, he was surprised to see Ocon and Alonso miss their grid slots.

"I was quite surprised about what happened because I don't really see an issue with it," Bottas replied when Autosport told him about Ocon's comments.

"When you enter the box, yes, the visibility with the cars nowadays with the high chassis and everything; it's not the same as maybe 10 years ago. But you should still be able to see where you are heading.

"I don't see an issue personally with that but maybe it's because of different cars with different kinds of winglets and stuff."

McLaren's Lando Norris too was puzzled by grid slots becoming a talking point.

"I think it's been easy since day one," he added. "I didn't think they needed to change it ever, to be honest with you. Just line up in a grid box, quite easy."

Additional reporting by Adam Cooper

Be part of the Autosport community

Join the conversation
Previous article Explained: The facts behind Hamilton's F1 cockpit complaints
Next article AlphaTauri: Early F1 floor upgrade the first of "five or six" steps

Top Comments

There are no comments at the moment. Would you like to write one?

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe